The aim of basic education is to teach skills and knowledge that are important in life and to secure a foundation of equal education for everyone. Further aims are to support students’ humanistic growth and their growth as ethically responsible members of society, and to promote education and equality in society.

Basic education consists of general education lasting nine years. It is free and affords everyone the same eligibility for further studies. Basic education in Finland is prescribed by law, in the Basic Education Act and Decree. The aims and contents of teaching are defined in the national curriculum basics.

Basic education teachers are either classroom teachers or subject teachers. Special needs teaching and guidance counselling are provided by special needs teachers, special needs classroom teachers and guidance counsellors. Basic education schools may also have preschool groups.

Finland’s success in international school achievement comparisons has largely been attributed to the country’s well-trained and highly committed teaching staff. Basic education is the cornerstone of the Finnish education system and the foundation of an egalitarian society.

Could I be a basic education teacher?

The work of basic education teachers demands a high level of theoretical training and sound methodological skills. In addition to pedagogical competence, knowledge of subject didactics is also highlighted in basic education. Teachers are responsible for ensuring that their students are taught in accordance with the curriculum.

Responsibility is an inherent part of a basic education teacher’s job, as teachers are responsible for students throughout the school day. In addition to responsibility, a teacher’s job also involves freedom – teachers have the freedom to teach in a manner that reflects their personality, although naturally the curriculum provides the framework for their work.

The key tools for basic education teachers are various working methods, diverse forms of assessment and differentiation of teaching to suit each student. Basic education teachers work together with the families of their students, which means interaction and co-operation skills are also highlighted in their work.

Where does a basic education teacher work?

Basic education teachers work in compulsory school, i.e. grades 1 through 9. They may also work in preschool education.

Classroom teachers usually teach in primary school, i.e. grades 1–6, while subject teachers work mainly in secondary school, grades 7–9.

How does one become a basic education teacher?

A classroom teacher majors in education sciences or education psychology, while a subject teacher majors in the subject he/she will teach. Basic education teachers must also complete pedagogical studies.

Special needs teachers or guidance counsellors are trained in the relevant master’s degree programmes or by supplementing their other qualifications with separate studies that provide the professional skills needed (60 credits).