Pre-primary and comprehensive education in Finland

Esi- ja perusopetus Suomessa
This section provides information on pre-primary and comprehensive school education in Finland. Comprehensive school education in Finland lasts nine years and pre-primary education one year.

Schooling is compulsory for children who live in Finland permanently. Compulsory schooling starts in the year when the child turns seven and ends when the basic education syllabus has been completed or 10 years after the start of compulsory schooling. In the year preceding the start of compulsory schooling children must attend pre-primary education.

Pre-primary education

In the year preceding the start of compulsory schooling, children who live in Finland permanently must attend one year of pre-primary education or other activities that meet the objectives of pre-primary education. The objective of pre-primary education is to improve the child’s learning ability.

Pre-primary education can be in Finnish or Swedish, but Swedish-language pre-primary education is not available in all localities.

Pre-primary education is free of charge. If pre-primary education is over five kilometres away, the child is entitled to free transport.

Comprehensive school

All children living permanently in Finland are required to complete the comprehensive school syllabus. Public comprehensive schools are free of charge.

Comprehensive school generally starts at the age of 7, but may be brought forward or delayed by a year depending on the child’s stage of development. Comprehensive school education in Finland lasts nine years.

School places are allocated by the municipality of residence in a nearby school. You can also apply to schools other than the nearest school.

What language can you attend primary school in?

You can attend comprehensive school in Finnish or Swedish. The language of instruction can also be Sámi, Romani or sign language.

In the major cities there are international schools, where the education is wholly or partly in English or another foreign language. International schools are often private schools, where the education is fee-paying. Some public comprehensive schools also have English-language classes.

Can a child get extra tuition in Finnish, Swedish or their own mother tongue?

Children who have moved to Finland from abroad can get tuition in Finnish or Swedish (Finnish/Swedish as a second language) if necessary. Tuition can also be provided in the pupil’s own mother tongue if it is a language other than Finnish or Swedish. Ask the school or your municipality for more information.

School meals and transport to and from school?

Pupils are entitled to a warm meal free of charge during the school day. In certain cases children may be entitled to free school transport.

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