Pedagogical plan – The foundation for development in Finnish schools

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Every school must have the necessary planning done – curriculum, academic plan and pedagogical plan. All of which serve as tools for the school management, teachers and other stakeholders and shape how the school operates and develops. These documents describe in detail the characteristics of a school, and the school’s core and support system it intends to achieve. In this post we are going to have a deeper look at the pedagogical plan – what it is all about and why it is important. 

In Finland when a school development project is started, a pedagogical plan is created (if not already existing). As a tool pedagogical plan offers a meaningful insight of the school community and it creates a vision for new ways of performing modern and effective education. Pedagogical plan provides a description of the schools’ pedagogical outlines, school activities, the working culture and the central types of shared values, behavior or models is emphasized. It can also describe the design and special needs for multi-functional learning environments indoor and outdoor spaces.

The creation process of a pedagogical plan is launched by the school principal who is mainly responsible for conducting the document. There are also usually a separate team established with the provision of school teachers and other experts such as school architects or designers who can contribute in developing the framework for the new school building and environment. To ensure the successful impact of the project it is important to collaborate closely with the students, school employees and parents to find out the current situation and how it can be improved in future. The plan can be formed locally for an individual school or for a few schools, or it can be even produced regionally for several schools. It’s updated every few years especially if some progress is being made. The document follows closely both the national and local curriculum, where it generates a bridge between the schools’ goals and how the school culture can be shaped to be used in action. Here we have outlined the most essential components for making a pedagogical plan — the Finnish way.

Values of the school 

First the pedagogical plan describes the core values, vision and mission of the school and the school community. These are the foundation of a school and would be advised to create together with the students and teachers. At best the values, vision and mission set out the desirable goals for students and teachers and clarify the educational objectives. As a part of the value discussion, it is as important to plan how to communicate and bring the values as a part of a normal school day. School values can be reflected in a consistent framework for curriculum components or be based on a locally embedded education program.

Instruction for action

In this part, the document describes the central actions performed at the school and how the schools’ goals can be achieved in everyday practice. For example it could include a mentioning of the prioritization of certain subject areas for the curriculum cycle or the main focal point of the multi-disciplinary learning modules at school. It can also be rules or guidelines of behavior in the school such as taking your outdoor shies off when entering the school or guiding everyone how to recycle plastic, paper, bio-waste and mixed waste. Depending on the context the chapter, it can include a more detailed image on what is expected from the school community to set up.  

Pedagogy, learning and teaching  

Above all, the plan lays out the ways how student-centered, evidence-based activities and procedures can be channeled into day-to-day teaching. It focuses on reinforcing the effectively used pedagogic and teaching methods by the teachers and increasing the learning of the students. Within the plan the teaching approaches can be detailed such as emphasizing game-based learning in Math or the ways of teachers collaboration or co-teaching. It might be even useful to divide the plan for each subject separately or look at different grades individually to find the different interests of each group of students. For the ongoing development it is essential to fully understand the approach to learning and teaching that the spaces are intended to facilitate.

Learning environments, space and infrastructure 

After describing the learning environment the plan goes further in describing the design solutions of spaces in a more comprehensive way. In order to ensure that the school spaces emphasis effective learning outcomes it is important that the spaces suit the pedagogical solutions and inspire learning. The plan should not only consider the physical environment of the school but also the virtual learning environments and the social learning environments where students can share and co-create. In the life cycle approach the learning environment can also take into consideration the other local learning environments in the community such as the library, swimming hall or the nearby forest. Descriptions of the surroundings include the school’s space solutions, school kitchen, ergonomy, furniture, acoustic conditions, room lighting, indoor air quality and cleaning. The environment should offer flexible working possibilities and opportunities for creativity and active participation while ensuring the functionality and sustainability of the school environment.

In case you are interested in starting to develop your existing school with Polar Partners, our team of experts can help you among other development activities with creating the pedagogical plan for your school. Contact our team here.