The (mis)use of the Finnish teacher education model: ‘policy-based evidence-making’?

Chung, Jennifer (2016) The (mis)use of the Finnish teacher education model: ‘policy-based evidence-making’? Educational Research. pp. 1-13. ISSN 0013-1881

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2016.1167485

Abstract

Background: International achievement studies such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have an increasing influence on education policy worldwide. The use of such data can provide a basis for evidence-based policy-making to initiate educational reform. Finland, a high performer in PISA, is often cited as an example of both efficient and equitable education. Finland’s teachers and teacher education have not only garnered much attention for their role in the country’s PISA successes, but have also influenced education policy change in England. Main argument: This article argues that the Finnish model of teacher education has been borrowed uncritically by UK policy-makers. Finnish and English philosophies of teacher preparation differ greatly, and the borrowing of the Finnish teacher education model does not fit within the teacher training viewpoint of England. The borrowed policies, thus, were decontextualised from the wider values and underpinnings of Finnish education. This piecemeal, ‘pick “n” mix’ approach to education policy reform ignores the fact that educational policies and ‘practices exist in ecological relationships with one another and in whole ecosystems of interrelated practices’. Thus, these borrowed teacher preparation policies will not necessarily lead to the outcomes outlined by policy-makers in the reforms. Sources of evidence: Two teacher preparation reforms in England, the University Training Schools (outlined in the UK Government’s 2010 Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching) and the Master’s in Teaching and Learning (MTL), are used to illustrate the problematic nature of uncritical policy borrowing. This article juxtaposes these policies with the Finnish model of teacher education, a research-based programme where all candidates are required to complete a Master’s degree. The contradictions exposed from this analysis further highlight the divergent practices of teacher preparation in England and Finland, or the disparate ‘ecosystems’. Evidence of educational policy borrowing in other settings is also considered. Conclusions: Both the MTL and the White Paper reforms overlook the ‘ecosystem’ surrounding Finnish teacher education. The school-based MTL contrasts with the research-based Finnish teachers’ MA. Similarly, the University Training Schools scheme, based on Finnish university-affiliated, teaching practice schools, contrasts heavily with the rest of the White Paper reforms, which contradict the philosophies and ethos behind Finnish teacher education by proposing the move of English teacher preparation away from the universities. The analysis highlights the uncritical eye through which politicians may view international survey results, looking for ‘quick fix’ options instead of utilising academic evidence for investigation on education and education reform.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 370 Education
300 Social sciences > 379 Public policy issues in education
School/Department: School of Management and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Kevin Sanders
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2016 10:40
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2016 10:45
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/1056

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