Teachers and school leaders

Why is teaching such an attractive career in Finland?

Teaching is regarded as one of the most valued professions in Finland. Becoming a primary school teacher is a very competitive process and only 10 per cent of all applicants are accepted in teacher education programs in university. The intake rate to subject teacher education (lower and upper secondary education) varies from 10 to 50 per cent, depending on the subject.

Salaries are not the main reason young people become teachers in Finland. More important than salaries are such factors as high social prestige, professional autonomy in schools, and the idea of teaching as a service to society and the public good.

How are teachers and school leaders recruited?

In Finland, education providers are responsible for employing their teaching staff. They also determine the types and number of posts needed. As a general rule, official posts and positions are declared as being vacant and should be filled by permanent employees wherever possible. Each local authority, joint municipal authority or private maintaining body may decide which of their bodies is responsible for appointing new teachers. It may be the education committee or another equivalent committee, the municipal board, the school board or the rector.

When selecting teachers, education providers set the criteria to be observed as part of each selection procedure. No selection criteria are imposed on local authorities or other education providers separately; instead, the aim is to select a person who is both qualified and suitable for each particular assignment. Teaching qualifications are laid down in the Decree on the Qualifications of Educational Staff (986/1998).

Is continuing teacher training compulsory in Finland?

Municipalities are required to fund three days annually of mandatory professional development or planning for each teacher. Municipalities, as the overseers of primary and secondary education, are responsible for providing teachers with learning opportunities, based on their needs. While some Finnish municipalities organise in-service programmes uniformly for all teachers, in others, it is up to the individual teachers or school principals to decide how much and what type of professional development is needed and whether such interventions will be funded.

How do you evaluate teachers?

Finland does not have a nationally-regulated framework for teacher evaluation. The main form of feedback for permanent teachers is through dialogue with the school leader. There is little guidance provided by central authorities on how to appraise teacher performance. Each municipality defines its own appraisal criteria linked to local objectives.

How much do Finnish teachers earn?

Finnish teachers’ salaries are slightly lower than the average for all master’s degree holders in Finland, but the difference is small by international comparison. In 2014 actual average gross salaries were 2 600 euro per month for kindergarten teachers, 3 400 euro for primary school teachers’, 3 700 for subject teachers at lower secondary level and 4 300 euro per month for upper secondary education teachers. The average salary in Finland was 3 300 euro per month and 3 094 in the municipal sector in 2014.