Thematic Review: School Design and Learning Environments in the City of Espoo, Finland

Duthilleul, Y., Blyth, A., Imms, W. and Maslauskaite, K. 2018. Thematic Review: School Design and Learning Environments in the City of Espoo, Finland. Paris Council of Europe Development Bank.

TitleThematic Review: School Design and Learning Environments in the City of Espoo, Finland
AuthorsDuthilleul, Y., Blyth, A., Imms, W. and Maslauskaite, K.
TypeTechnical report
Abstract

This report presents the main findings and recommendations resulting from a review of education infrastructure investments in the city of Espoo, Finland, carried out by the CEB’s Technical Assessment & Monitoring Directorate. The objective of the review was to examine the links between school design and learning environments. The report provides Espoo officials with recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of the education investment and identifies good practices that could be shared with other countries.

The City of Espoo and the Finnish education system are internationally recognised as top performers for learning outcomes and one of the most equitable. However, rapid population growth, increasing numbers of children and foreign-language residents, and general tightening of the public budget pose challenges to service delivery just at a time when education infrastructure is expected to adapt to new learning curricula.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the commitment to education remains very high on the part of all the stakeholders met in the city of Espoo. This commitment is reflected in the strategy for the City, the continuous financial support provided to the sector over the years, and the deep value and trust placed in their highly educated teachers. The eight schools visited by the review team already reflect some elements of the vision promoted by the new curriculum introduced in 2017, including the presence of differently sized learning spaces, heightened transparency and increased flexibility. The average learning space per child tends to be more generous than in other countries, given the use of spaces such as corridors and common areas for learning activities.

The review team identified a series of key themes to encourage further discussion and exploration by Espoo teachers and city officials in their search for effective strategies to guide investments in the education sector. These include:
• the need to find the right balance between cost-effectiveness and the promotion of effective learning environments;
• the value of systematically involving the school community in the design process;
• the importance of providing the necessary support for teachers to transition into new learning environments, by developing and implementing an Effective Spatial Professional Development programme.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of any investment depends on how well it is used. In this regard, international research is unanimous in identifying teachers as the factor that correlates most strongly with student achievement. Thus, as part of any build, investing in teachers’ effective use of spaces must be a priority and an important component in the budgeting process.

FileSchool_Design_and_Learning_Environments_in_the_City_of_Espoo_Finland.pdf
KeywordsEspoo; Finland; Schools; Learning environments; architecture
Year2018
PublisherCouncil of Europe Development Bank
Place of publicationParis
Publication dates
Published13 Dec 2018
Web address (URL)https://coebank.org/media/documents/School_Design_and_Learning_Environments_in_the_City_of_Espoo_Finland.pdf

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