In Finland, special needs education is provided primarily within mainstream education. Children of all levels study together in the same classroom. The Finnish education system uses this approach to make sure that “no student is left behind.”
How is this effective? Finland’s teacher education program includes an extensive course on how to recognize different needs in different pupils. They stress that teachers are always teaching individuals, not a group, because each learner is different.
As such, teachers create individualized study plans tailored for each child. The aim is to have each child receive the right amount of challenge as well as a sense of learning and achievement. When the exercises are appropriate for the students’ skill levels, even those with poor performance can keep up and avoid becoming frustrated, underachieving, or acting out.
If a student cannot be provided with instruction in a regular teaching group due to disability, illness, delayed development, emotional disorder, or for other similar reasons, the student is transferred to special needs education—in a special class or at some other appropriate location instruction. However, those in need of special support are found at very young ages and provided with pre-primary education, which is why there are very few special classes.
Overall, the Finish system provides training so every teacher is able to identify talented pupils as well as those who might be suffering from learning difficulties. And, since so much of learning is individualized, more screening is done for special needs students than for talented or gifted students. It’s a system that works well for this country.