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Finland visit

Exploring Lapland’s education system

Last week Greg Hughes, Vice Principal (Learning Technologies & Curriculum), took up the opportunity to visit some schools in Lapland, Finland, to see how the Finnish education system works and also compare how both schools use iPad as part of their 1:1 programs.

Greg struck up a friendship with Sari Lantto, fellow Apple Distinguished Educator and headteacher of Ylitornion yhteiskoulun lukio in Ylitornio, Finland, last summer. Through an EU Erasmus+ funding grant, Sari was able to visit The de Ferrers Academy last Autumn with 4 of her teaching staff to look at the curriculum, CPD/training and use of iPads, allowing Greg the chance to take part in a return visit this term.

Ylitornio is a town on the border with Sweden up near the Arctic Circle at the western edge of Finland, in the beautiful Tornio River Valley.

Greg said “despite some obvious difference in size, climate and language, both schools have a lot in common, especially the community atmosphere and the drive to embrace learning technologies for students and push themselves to become leading institutions in this field”. 

This wasn’t the only area of interest for Greg. “Finland has a reputation as one of the world’s finest education systems and it was fantastic to experience first-hand how they teach foreign language skills and also develop literacy & numeracy with very young children. Everyone I met was incredibly warm and welcoming and the visit also taught me a lot about pace and reflection…as well as learning a little bit of Finnish”, As part of the visit, Greg visited a nursery, primary and secondary school , was interviewed by the local press, spoke about the UK education system with a video link to a Helsinki school and was even made an honorary Ylitornio Laplander!

“The week was incredibly useful and gave me a lot to think about, as well as being an amazing experience”

Greg & Sari are now planning some joint projects for their students across both institutions to develop further links and look into some really innovative experiences using iPad.