Finland's early years curriculum grows across the globe

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An early years approach based on Finland’s educational system is expanding across the world

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Helsinki International (HEI) Schools, a licensing model that teaches early years professionals to implement Finland’s educational ideology and curriculum, has established new settings in China, Australia and Finland.

HEI Emerald near Melbourne will open later this month after three months of collaboration between local teachers and their HEI mentors. The school is a remodel of an existing early childhood learning centre and will have capacity for 60 children.

The HEI Schools approach focuses on 'phenomenon-based learning' and the belief that the most intensive learning happens through free play. With the University of Helsinki as a shareholder, the company is able to develop and test its pedagogical model with the support of education academics.

In China, HEI Guangzhou opened last Autumn after renovations. The Finnish mentor team has been working alongside local teachers since the summer and will continue until Summer 2019. This school has 30 students on roll.

New HEI schools are planned to open in three further locations in China, as well as in Korea, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait City, between 2019 and 2020.

HEI also plans to prioritise North America as a source of potential new partners and market openings during 2019.

New HEI settings receive a complete school package including the curriculum, teacher training, learning environment design, curated learning materials and operational support. Local operators then set fees and application procedures.

Schools are encouraged to collaborate with each other, sharing teaching mentors and providing opportunities for parents to share their experiences.

HEI Ruoholahti opened in Helsinki in August 2018 with capacity for 80 children. The school is operated by Touhula, the largest early childhood operator in Finland.

HEI Baotou opened in September 2017 with a 4,500 square metre space for 300 children between the ages of three and six. The school is now running independently after over a year of working with its Finnish mentor team.

HEI Schools was selected by educational non-profit organisation HundrED (hundred.org) as one of the 100 most inspiring programmes in education worldwide for 2019, and was awarded the Vuoden Huiput (vuodenhuiput.fi), an annual Finnish design competition recognising the best creative concepts in Finland, in 2017.

Chief executive of HEI Schools, Milla Kokko, said, ‘The Finnish model is world-renowned and had to be made available to the rest of the world. Now that we have grown into further parts of the world it is evident that the need does exist.

‘Our dream is to offer high-quality early education for as many children and families in the world as possible. This mission drives us to develop better and better pedagogical content, more innovative ways to offer it to local partners and more inspiring ways to develop our worldwide, truly international teacher community.

‘It is not an easy job and we will have many kinds of challenges on the way. Still, we are definitely up to it, because we think the smallest children deserve the best teachers!’

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