It's been a while that I was welcomed to Saunalahti School with a group of teachers on a study trip (or workaction) to have a closer look at education in Finland in September 2013. This school in particular and it's community was perhaps the best part of the trip and definitely worth a visit whenever you're in the neighborhood. The building fits perfectly in the rough surroundings with lots of wood and rocks. The school is very special and I could feel and see that each and every child was very welcome at this school. It felt like a second home to the students that attended. This was not only a school, but a multifunctional meeting place for the entire community and was open from 6 AM till 10 PM. All stakeholders such as parents were really involved and this school did a great job in being the center of this community. At tis school it is mandatory for parents to come to school at least twice a year to talk about their child. And those sessions are during the day instead of evenings which is common in my country. Both the school and the parents find it very important to do so apparently.
Parents are also involved in the parent council, which has a certain influence on the curriculum of the school, which is created by the team of teachers at the beginning of each school year. In Finland schools do not have to follow the standardized curriculum (if there is any at all?). Students do get a lot of space and are free and able to join lots of different learning activities to develop themselves.
"The inclusive Saunalahti school is a learning and expert community that enables growing roots and wings to children."
The school has six values and the first one - of course - is 'focused on the child', while we in the Netherlands either focus too much on the curriculum (standards) or on the teachers and their professional development ... This is one of the main things that I will take home.