Category Archives: Uncategorized

Exploring school system in England on Erasmus+ 3T’s – project

On our Erasmus+ -trip to Bedford we had a wonderful opportunity to see out nearly the whole education system in England. We had time to follow lessons in different kinds of schools; we had conversations with students, teachers, principals and University staff.

Through Finnish perspective, English school system seems very complicated compared to ours. Instead of comprehensive school, there are systems in a system. Roughly, there are either independent or public schools but within this division, there still are many systems: nursery schools, preschools, maintained schools, academies, independent schools, special schools and pupil referral units. Independent schools cost a lot of money; public schools are free of charge.

A new system will take place in becoming September. Then so-called foundation stage will contain nursery and preschool (3-5 years). Primary school will be divided in two key stages: key stage 1 and 2 (5-7 years, 7-11 years). Secondary school will include stages 3, 4 and 5 (11-14 years, 14-16 years, 16-18 years).

Nursery school starts at age of three. All 3 and 4 year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week. The rest of daily care is charged. Free 15-hour childcare is also extended to the most disadvantaged 2 year-olds. In England, it is believed that education from early ages brings good achievements. Daily activities are more or less based on subjects like math, science and English. Same subjects are seen important throughout the whole school path.  During school days, children practice reading, writing, counting, measuring etc. We even saw four-year-old children writing sentences on their small whiteboards.

Studying and teaching at primary and secondary schools seems to be very hard and demanding for both students and teachers. Studying under pressure because of test results affects teaching and learning in various ways. SATS (Standard Assessment Tests) tests are taken at the end of year 2, year 6 and year 9. They are used to show child’s progress compared to other children born on the same month. In UK testing is a part of normal routine. School days in England are long, families either pay for their children’s school lunch or give them packed lunch and the amount of homework is huge.

One of the most awakening moments was a 15-year-old girl’s speech on her English lesson. The topic was quite provoking: Why school sucks? This youngster was worried about (endless) testing and what that kind of testing will do to young and growing children. It is a good question for every teacher!

We got so many new experiences during this school tour in England that we could never imagine. It is a true privilege to be a part of this 3T -project team!

Heli, Asema School and Raini, SYK

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Exploring the 3 T’s in Erasmus project

Three Finnish schools from Innokas network had a change to take part in an Erasmus project with England and Denmark. The theme for this two year project is Time, Talent and Technology; the 3 T’s. The schools, which decided to apply, were SYK from Helsinki, Veikkola school from Kirkkonummi and Asema school from Hankasalmi.

During the first year of the project the aim is to observe the 3T’s in each country by visiting them and their schools. In June 2017 the Danish and the Finnish representatives visited Bedford in England for 4 days and during those days had a great opportunity of visiting altogether over 20 schools. Here are some of the observations the Finnish team made. The schools in the Bedford area were very interested to hear about these observations and use them to develop their schools in these areas.

taulukkoKuva yliopistolta

– Anu and Kati from Innokas

Collaboration with Hong Kong schools

Our collaboration with Hong Kong started in August 2016. 1K-class from Jalavapuisto School in Espoo was happy to get a friend school called Holm Glad No.2 (The Mission Covenant Church Holm Glad No. 2 Primary School). Holm Glad No.2 has started an academy project called ‘Learning by Doing’. This project aims to change culture at the whole school level for example, by giving teachers s supportive school environment that puts people instead of grades first.

 We have been emailing, sending pictures and videos telling about our class and school day whereas they’ve been telling about their school and taking us to ‘the trip’ around the town introducing their neighbourhood. And we also started a match ‘Checkers’ going on on WhatsApp between Hong Kong and Espoo.

We teachers have been chatting on Skype two times now. Listening to each others plans and hopes and of coarse getting to know each other better.We are going to go on our collaboration after the summer. 

 This far this has been rewarding yet challenging. We’ve been happy to learn about their culture which differs from ours quite a lot. Several emails and Skype chats have been a great way not only to get to know the teachers better but also their always optimistic way of thinking.

 Linda Mattila from Koulumestari School in Espoo has also been working with Holm Glad No.2 with me. Planning and sharing ideas together has been a great help when thinking about this in all.

BR,
Hanna Mäkynen, Jalavapuisto school, Espoo

FULBRIGHT VISITORS AND SPRING IN ASEMA SCHOOL

We had a great school day in March when we got two Fulbright visitors from USA. We don’t have visitors often so the children (and adults too..) were really excited and happy to meet them. We had planned water-themed workshops for the preschoolers and children in the first and second class. Also the children with special needs took part in the workshops. Overall we had six teachers and 50 students doing this project. The visitors were science teachers and they told me beforehand some very good tips for planning the day.

For many children it was a unique experience to meet people from another country because not so many of them have ever traveled outside of Finland. Nat and Stephen took part in the workshops doing the same things as the children. We found that nonverbal gestures are really international. The kids don’t speak English at all except some phrases. Especially I liked that Stephen and Nat went out with children and played with them. For example one of the preschoolers asked me what is kivi paperi sakset in English and when Stephen knew he meant rock paper scissors he was so happy to play with Stephen. The kids found out that the visitors also knew hide and seek.

We have been following spring coming to our village with SYK. It has been a really strange spring as you know. This year it has been snowing in May even in Helsinki. And suddenly we noticed that after few warm days we could find spring flowers near the school! My students wanted to send cards to those in SYK because the next autumn they will have a new teacher and I will continue cooperation with the new class. They also wanted to show what they have been learning in English lessons during the school year. So they filmed videos with iPads introducing themselves.

-Heli, Hankasalmi Asema School

On a Journey – a learning environment design project in Helsinki and in Beijing

On this May we have worked very hard with our new project called: On a Journey. Our project here in Finland and in China is about a library as a learning space. We work with our school library and so do my colleagues in ZhongGuanCun no 3 Primary School. We have shared ideas about design thinking in Education, and design in general. My students have visited their neighbor libararies and made some observations about places they think is a good place to work and to concentrate. Students have learned the difference between 2D and 3D, they have studied and learned the idea of a square meter and a scale. Now they are doing their ‘hands on’ part: beautiful floor plans and scale models are designed and made by student teams. How many fourth graders fit in a one square meter? Twenty..

We also got a photo of design work from a school in Zhengzhou, my partner no 2 Lu works there. Their idea of modelling and designing is very different from ours. But it is very good to see different ways of thinking, isn’t it!

BR,
Raini Sipilä, SYK

Springtime in Beijing and in Helsinki

These pictures were taken on the very same day: 31st March 2017 in both Beijing and in Helsinki. My colleagues in China didn’t believe me when I told them the springtime in Finland is quite cold. But after this snowy picture they knew the same fact than I..


During this spring I have mostly sent text messages and photos to my colleagues in Beijing. My partner Song Liting and her colleagues have discussed a lot about the ideas I have sent them. Our project will take place next week and we will concentrate on space design. Our aim is to make ZhongGuanCun no 3 Primary school’s library a better learning environment. We will start the process here and my colleague Song Liting will start her process in her school. It will be nice to see what kind of renewals our students will invent!

Raini Sipilä, SYK

Chinese New Year at SYK

As we have worked with a Chinese school and my students have written a blog about KaiKai’s and XinXin’s visits – dolls we got last year as a present from Zhongguancun nro 4 primary school – my students’ parents decided to organize our own Chinese New Year party. The evening was a real success! First we had Chinese meal and green tea. One mother even made  real, traditional New Year’s dumblings to us. Of course we ate with chopstics!

At my classroom students gave their performances to parents. We also did Eye protection rehersals all together; we learned this from Aleena last year. Then we had a visitor from Confucius Institute University of Helsinki, Mr. Xinsheng Li gave us a short lecture about Chinese calligraphy. Our last visitors gave us a kungfu-show – for me it was a bit scary, but my students really enjoyed the show. What an evening we had! Have a good rooster’s year!

kiina8 kiina7 kiina6 kiina5
BR, Raini/SYK