Finland background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.


Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

Municipal administrative bodies make decisions about acceptances or transfers. These require hearings by experts and parents, and the drawing up of individual education plans.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

Before a decision on special support is made, the education provider shall hear the child/learner and their parent, carer or legal representative, in accordance with the provisions of the administrative procedure act. The education provider shall obtain a report on the child’s/learner’s progress in learning and an account of the enhanced support given to the child/learner and their overall situation, which has been prepared through multi-professional child/learner welfare co-operation. Based on these, the education provider shall assess the need for special support. The pedagogical examination shall be supplemented by a psychological or medical opinion or a corresponding social assessment.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

The decision on special support shall determine the child’s/learner’s primary teaching group, possible interpretation and assistant services and other services.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

The plan shall be revised according to need, but at least once a school year. The plan shall describe the education and other support provided, in accordance with the decision on special support, to meet the child’s/learner’s needs. The salient content of the plan shall be laid down in the core curriculum.

The formal, regular review process in the country

The education provider shall make a written decision for the provision of special support, which is reviewed at least after the second-year class and before transfer to the seventh-year class.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Placement in a mainstream class implies over 50% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

In Finland’s statistics on special education in comprehensive schools from 2011, the placements for learners with an official decision are as follows:

  • All teaching is provided in a mainstream education group
  • 51 to 99% of teaching is provided in a mainstream education group
  • 21 to 50% of teaching is provided in a mainstream education group
  • 1 to 20% of teaching is provided in a mainstream education group
  • All teaching is provided in special groups or classes.

For the EASIE data collection, Finland counts the children/learners from the groups ‘all teaching is provided in a mainstream education group’ and ‘51 to 99% of teaching is provided in a mainstream education group’ in the proxy.

Why this proxy was used

There is not more specific data available at the moment.

Difficulties in using the proxy

None. It is estimated that around 10% of all children/learners with SEN receive 51%–79% of their teaching in mainstream groups/classes. This group is ‘questionable’ related to the proxy used.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator



Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines ‘formal education’ as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011, p. 11).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

No, Finland uses the same definitions as ISCED.

How specific cases – such as home-educated children/learners – are considered

Home-educated children/learners – which is a very small group in Finland – are included in the data collection.

Children/learners who are considered out of formal education (meaning those not in formal education as defined by ISCED)

Finland does not have definitions on this matter. There are very few children/learners out of the formal education system.

How the population of children/learners who are out of formal education is defined

Please refer to previous answer.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

The government may authorise a registered association or a foundation to provide education.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

Private sector education has been included in the data collection.

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection



ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 6 to 6

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 7 to 12

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 13 to 15

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 16 to 18


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2016/2017 dataset. A PDF of the background information for the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 datasets is available.

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