Country information for Finland - Assessment within inclusive education systems

Early childhood education

Support for a child’s development and learning is part of high-quality ECEC activities. Each child in need of support is entitled to receive it. The child’s need for support is recognised and appropriate support is arranged as the need arises, in cross-sectoral co-operation if necessary. Sufficiently early and correctly targeted support may promote the child’s development, learning and well-being. At the same time, the support may be used to prevent problems from emerging. ECEC is developed in accordance with the principles of inclusion in Finland.

In early childhood education, the child’s need for support is assessed by considering observations from both the parents and the staff, or based on the child’s earlier established need for special support. The child may need support in the physical, cognitive, emotional or social areas of development or in skills development for varying periods of time. The need for support may also arise when the child’s health or development is endangered or is not adequately fostered by developmental conditions. On assessing the child’s need for support, it is important to identify and define the child’s individual opportunities to act in different environments and in different educational situations and to also define related need for support and guidance. The aim is to prevent the child’s need for support from accumulating and becoming prolonged.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for guiding the development of maternity and child health clinics. Municipalities are in charge of the practical arrangement of services. Clinics assess the physical, mental and social condition of children under school age, provide vaccinations and support parents in providing secure, child-focused rearing and care and in attending to relationships. The clinics also promote healthy growing environments for children and healthy family lifestyles. Child health clinics try to identify problems affecting families with small children at an early stage and to arrange for appropriate help. The clinics carry out multi-professional collaboration with other professionals working with young families. Services provided by these clinics are free of charge and are available to every family and almost every family uses them.

ECEC in Finland comprises care, education and teaching to support children’s balanced growth, development and learning. Municipal services enable children to receive ECEC, family or group family day care, either on a full-time or part-time basis. Private ECEC services, parishes and organisations provide alternative forms of ECEC.

Pre-primary education and compulsory schooling

Learners participating in education are entitled to sufficient direct support for growth, learning and school attendance as the need arises. Attention must be on early identification of learning barriers and difficulties. Early identification of support needs requires continuous assessment of children’s growth and learning, and provision of support must be initiated at a sufficiently early stage. This will prevent aggravation and long-term effects of problems.

Assessing support needs and offering the necessary support form an integral part of a teacher’s work and all teaching situations. Support is constructed through co-operation between teachers and other experts, where required, and in interaction with pupils and their parents or guardians. Special attention must be focused on pupils’ learning abilities and their opportunity to assume responsibility for their own learning, setting objectives for it, and its planning, implementation and assessment. General support measures are usually initiated based on teachers’ observations.

Support needs may be assessed using the results of physical examinations and any other evaluations conducted on the learner. Support measures must form a systematic continuum. Support levels are planned individually for each learner.

Intensified support measures are initiated on the basis of a pedagogical assessment, which describes:

  • the status of the pupil’s learning and schooling as a whole;
  • general support provided for the pupil and an assessment of its effects;
  • the pupil’s learning abilities and special needs relating to learning and schooling;
  • an assessment of the types of pedagogical and learning environment and pupil welfare;
  • other arrangements that support the pupil.

The pupil’s teachers draw up a written pedagogical assessment. Where necessary, and especially in cases concerning problems relating to the pupil’s well-being and overall development, other experts are involved to help draw up the assessment. Co-operation with the pupil and their parents or guardians is important in terms of determining needs, planning and successfully implementing support measures. Any learning plan already in place for the pupil as part of general support will be used when drawing up the pedagogical assessment. If the pupil has a rehabilitation plan, this may also be used with permission from the parents or guardians.

Prior to deciding on special support, the education provider must prepare a pedagogical statement on the pupil. For the purposes of the pedagogical statement, a body, official or employee appointed by the education provider will obtain:

  • a statement on the pupil’s learning progress from their teachers;
  • a statement on the intensified support measures provided for the pupil and the pupil’s overall situation, prepared in multi-disciplinary pupil welfare co-operation.

Based on the statements, the education provider assesses the pupil’s special support needs. The combination of these two statements and the subsequent assessment is known as a pedagogical statement.

A written pedagogical statement outlines:

  • the status of the pupil’s learning and schooling as a whole;
  • intensified support provided for the pupil and an assessment of its effects;
  • the pupil’s learning abilities and special needs relating to learning and schooling;
  • an assessment of the types of pedagogical, learning environment, pupil welfare or other arrangements that support the pupil;
  • a justified assessment of whether the pupil needs an individualised syllabus in one or more subjects.


Last updated 24/03/2020

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