Best practices for the integration of immigrants into the educational system

Pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education

3/2016 – 5/2019

A project for evaluating the integration of immigrants into the educational system in Finland will be carried out as a national and international comparison that provides information on best practices and operating models for organising education services for immigrants. The evaluation also serves to gathering the latest evaluation and research data on the subject. The objective is to strengthen the integration through education in the fields of education that are prioritised in the evaluation. Evaluation and research data is gathered both nationally and internationally during year 2016 and early 2017 utilising Best Practices web portal at and with evaluation visits to Germany, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The choice of evaluation targets and the focus areas of practices to be studied have been defined in the course of the project, based on a needs assessment focused on different actors and research information.

The focus areas of the evaluation project include the best practices and operating models related to the integration of first and second generation immigrants, focusing on basic and upper secondary education and their transition phases. Also management practices from the perspective of an operating culture that supports a linguistically and culturally diverse school/educational institution are looked at. In addition, the integration training for immigrants is studied.

The evaluation themes are described below in more detail. Key questions that have arisen in the course of the project have been added to each theme.

Challenges in the educational paths of those who arrived in the final stages and after the age of compulsory education (late arrivals)

The learning outcomes of many immigrant children and young people remain weaker than those of the learners in the original population. The situation is especially problematic for so-called late arrivals (young people who have arrived in the country in the final stages of basic education) with gaps in their education history. In their case the risk of being excluded from upper secondary education is also high.

  • What kind of flexible models could be applied for late arrival learners for completing basic education?
  • How can the professional competencies of those teaching the so-called late arrivals be developed?
  • How are the (financial) resources for the education and support of these learners developed?
  • How is the monitoring of transitions in the educational paths of the learners developed?

Flexible practices in the basic and upper secondary transition phase, guidance

The challenges of the transition point between basic and upper secondary education is the insufficient educational offering and the unestablished and changing practices of transferring information. The connection of education preparing for vocational upper secondary education and training as well as general upper secondary education to degree programmes and the students’ chances of completing related studies already at the transition point should be supported.

  • What kind of flexible models are applied to the transition point?
  • How is the preparatory upper secondary education paced in relation to the start of the education?
  • What kind of support measures are directed towards students with a need for special support in upper secondary studies?
  • What kind of guidance models are effective?
  • What kind of continuing education is offered in order to develop the language and cultural awareness of vocational teachers and upper secondary school subject teachers?
  • How can we improve and strengthen the students’ motivation to studying?
  • How are a sufficient number of further education places ensured?

Integration training for immigrants

Integration training for immigrants is a key measure in promoting the integration of immigrants over the age of compulsory education and improving their societal, cultural and life management skills. It also functions as a channel towards other types of education and training and the open labour market. Integration training for immigrants includes teaching Finnish or Swedish and, if necessary, reading and writing skills as well as other instruction that promotes entry into working life and further education. It may also include recognition of prior learning and acquired degrees as well as career planning and counselling.

  • How does integration training support transitions to working life and the education system?
  • How does teaching language, societal studies, professionality and employment overlap with the training?
  • How is the development of language skills evaluated?

Management practices at the school/educational institution: supporting cooperation between teachers, implementing language awareness in the operating culture of the school/educational institution

Developing the operating culture and ethos of the school/educational institution so that it affirms linguistic and cultural diversity is first and foremost a management challenge, which gives the head teacher a central role in developing a language-aware operating culture and enabling cooperation between teachers. As the linguistic and cultural diversity of schools and educational institutions increases, more consciously ethical and pedagogical leadership is also required.

  • Do schools/educational institutions have strategies to develop the operational culture and ethos towards an institution that affirms linguistic and cultural diversity and who is/are responsible for the strategic development?
  • How does the management of the school/educational institution establish cooperation and peer training between teachers with regard to cultural diversity and language awareness?
  • How does the management and staff of the school/educational institution support the development of the pupils’/students’ interaction and communality?
  • How does the management support cooperation with the wider community surrounding the school, including parents?
  • What kind of training related to integration, multilingualism and cultural diversity is needed and offered in order to support the management and leadership of schools/educational institutions?
  • What kinds of training periods related to cultural diversity and language awareness are included in the principal/head teacher training programmes?

More information:

Salla Venäläinen

Salla Venäläinen

Head of Unit
Management and administration, General education
+358 29 533 5549 Helsinki