The Finnish Government decided on 30 March that restrictions on contact teaching at different levels of education would be continued until 13 May. Teaching continued mainly in the form of distance learning. Later, the Government updated the restrictions so that contact teaching could restart at all levels of education as of 14 May. However, it recommended that distance learning should continue until the end of the school year for all other than basic education. Nordic countries are closely following each other’s actions in meeting the challenge of Covid-19.
The Finnish National Agency for Education has supported teachers and learners in their distance teaching and learning. In all circumstances, teacher’s main work is to guide students; for this, the teacher can use different digital tools and practices.
Training at the workplace can continue if the education provider and the employer consider that the work environment is safe for the student. The government recommends social distancing at work where possible and, in some sectors, there are temporary restrictions caused by characteristics of certain professions. If the safety of the students cannot be ensured, it is recommended that on-the-job training should be continued only when the risk no longer exists.
AAssessment of skills is based on demonstration of competences in a real working environment; there is no final exam in Finnish VET. If it is not possible in this situation to arrange demonstrations of competence in the workplace for all students, the education provider gives priority to those scheduled to complete the qualification and graduate this spring. Demonstration of competence can also be organised in other workplace-like learning environments outside the education institution, such as the training provider's own construction sites or teaching farms. The evidence must always be arranged in such a way that the methods of demonstrating competence correspond as closely as possible to authentic work tasks and work processes, enabling the assessment of professional skills. If this is not possible, the demonstration and assessment of competence should be postponed.
In vocational education and training, learning other than the demonstration of competences will be as planned but with the help of digital tools. In cases where this is not possible, indication and assessment of learning will be postponed.
Special attention was paid to those students, who cannot study independently or use digital tools. Guidance and support have been arranged so that special education teachers, guidance counsellors and welfare officers are available virtually. Students with immigrant background can also get their schoolwork by post. In exceptional vocational education and training cases it has been possible to arrange a limited amount of teaching and guidance in school premises during the Covid-19 crisis, but always in a safe way for teachers and students.
Such support should also remain available after Covid-19 crisis. The coming school year requires extra work in order to recover the deficit and differences in learning in these exceptional circumstances. This means extra investments in teaching and guidance as well as other supportive actions. The Ministry of Education and Culture has already prepared for these actions.