Monday, 27 July 2009

The National Core Curriculum

The National Core Curriculum, created by the Finnish National Board of Education, provides teachers with a plan of educational objectives as well as assessment criteria.  Although the board of education lays down the guidelines, the municipalities and schools place the curriculum into the local context, and the teachers hold the responsibility  of carrying out the curriculum as they see fit.  

In 1970, Finland introduced the first national curriculum, with strong centralization.  The curriculum has undergone three reforms since its inception, in 1985, 1994, and 2004.  

In 1985, the National Curriculum became the National Core curriculum, with increasing emphasis on a municipally-based syllabus.  The reforms also abolished ability grouping and increased eligibility to studies after compulsory education.

In 1994, the reforms delegated power further to the municipalities and schools.  The changes also abolished school inspections, encouraged cooperative learning, and created a "thinner" core curriculum.

The 2004 reforms reversed the curricular reforms and strengthened the core curriculum.  It also re-distributed the lesson hours, emphasizing goals instead of content.  The reforms in general have strengthened the roles of local authorities and schools, and stress the relevance of local and school-specific curricula.  They have also increased the role of student welfare and special education, in addition to individualized student learning.  Although the reforms of 2004 have increased the control of the local authority over the curriculum, the latest reform has applied more regulations to the National Core Curriculum, for the Board of Education felt it needed to provide more guidance.  

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