Supporting children and young people all the way to adulthood

Published: 13.6.2022 10.53
Schoolchildren reading books.
Photo: Taru Turpeinen

The Growth and Learning Sector wants to ensure an uninterrupted and smooth learning path for all children and young people and to continuously develop the cooperation between day-care centres, schools and guardians. An uninterrupted learning path provides everyone with the opportunity to grow, learn and develop to reach their full potential.

The aim is to help every child find a way of learning that is ideal for them and ensure smooth transitions from early childhood education and care to pre-primary education and on to basic education and upper secondary education, meaning general upper secondary school or vocational education and training. These efforts also prevent the social exclusion of children and young people and provide support for finding the keys to a good life.

“The learning paths of children and young people are built in a learner-oriented manner, in collaboration with children, young people, their homes and our experts,” says the City of Espoo’s Director of Growth and Learning Harri Rinta-aho.

The different needs of children and young people

One of the key aims is to recognise the different needs of children and young people In practice, this means e.g. regular assessment discussions with homes so that all the adults involved in the child’s or young person’s education can support their development together.

With such measures the Sector wants to increase cooperation between schools and guardians, and the aim is to also involve guardians in the planning of new services and the development of existing ones.

Examples of these efforts include the young people’s safety-themed evening and local events for guardians. These events are aimed at the guardians of young people in grades 7–9 of comprehensive school or in upper secondary education and young people themselves.

“A young person needs a community to belong to and reliable adults in their life. Wellbeing consists of multiple factors, of course, but no one can make it alone. In addition to activity groups and the home, the school is an important community where every child and young person should feel comfortable,” says Rinta-aho.

Smooth learning paths also supported by new information systems

Cooperation with guardians is also being supported with new and developing information systems. These include the new eVaka system that facilitates communication between day-care centres and homes. The service allows guardians and day-care centre staff to communicate and stay in touch securely.

Also under development is DigiOne, a new information system for facilitating cooperation between homes and schools, which is planned to enter into service in 2024. It is set to replace the current Wilma system.

DigiOne and eVaka also provide support for transitions by facilitating the transfer of children and young people’s information from early childhood education and care to first grade and then later to 7th grade and upper secondary education, for example.

Furthermore, the systems support the change of day-care centres’ and schools’ operating cultures and management, the planning of operations and the building of individual learning paths. As a result, the systems free up staff working time to spend on what is most important: early childhood education and care and teaching.

A safe environment in which to grow and learn

In Espoo, every child and young person is helped to find their own way of progressing with their studies.

“Children and young people get to grow and study in a psychologically and physically safe environment where they can learn and succeed. All of our operations are steered by the thought of what is best for the child or young person,” Rinta-aho emphasises.

“We want to make sure that everyone learns the skills that they need for further studies and a good life. Positive emotional experiences, joy and activities that result in the creation of something new promote learning and inspire children and young people to develop their own skills.”

The goal is to ensure a safe learning environment for the entire length of the young person’s learning path.

Finland raised the age of compulsory education to 18 in autumn 2021, ensuring that general upper secondary education remains free of charge, for example. One of the aims of the change is to provide young people with more support in different stages of life and regarding choices.

The goal is for as many young people as possible to get into upper secondary education directly after basic education. In Espoo, efforts to further support this have included the preparation of clear, picture-based instructions for young people graduating from primary and lower secondary education to help them apply for vocational education and training, general upper secondary education and preparatory education.

“We also engage in close cooperation with the Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo region Omnia, the Swedish-language vocational school Practicum and the outreach youth work and Ohjaamotalo of the Growth and Learning Sector’s youth services,” Rinta-aho states.

“We also maintain a presence in various environments and find ways of reaching young people who have stayed at home. When necessary, the support finds the young person instead of the other way around.”

Useful links:

  • Basic Education
  • General Upper Secondary Education
  • Early Childhood Education