Finnish open-plan schools change the principles of secondary education

Saunalahti school

In spatial terms, the plan becomes flexible with moving partition walls and soft flooring where students walk wearing socks instead of shoes. The footprints of the plans are usually elongated to separate the noisier parts of the school , plus special acoustics are being applied for the same cause. Refurbishment includes sofas, rocking chairs and big cushions instead of traditional desks and chairs.

In teaching and learning terms, there is a greater autonomy in what is learned for both teachers and students, there are no divisions between ages and a there is a great variety of learning situations where children get paired despite age difference. Class time is dedicated to real life problems and their relation to mathematics or physics instead of abstract manifestations to favor cross curricular connections (phenomenon based learning).



  • Feargus O’ Sullivan, 2017. Why Finland Is Embracing Open-Plan School Design. In, article available here
  • Madeline Will, 2016. Finland’s Education Minister Discusses New National Curriculum and PISA Scores. In Education Week, article available here

Image available here

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