The norm-based steering of basic education aims at promoting the teaching of skills needed in future working life. However, the adequacy of information-based steering to support education should be ensured even after the local curricula have been completed, so that the future skills can be taught as effectively as possible.
The NAOF’s audit examined whether the steering of basic education supports the teaching of skills necessary in future working life. Examples of such skills include, for example, social skills, emotional skills, and learning to learn. The audit utilized the skills identified by the OECD as important for future working life.
The key norm steering the contents and objectives of basic education is the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education, which is updated approximately every 10 years. Local education providers draw up their own curricula on the basis of the core curriculum.
The skills needed in future working life have played a key role in basic education since the comprehensive reform of the core curriculum in 2014. There was a gradual transition to teaching according to the new curriculum in 2016–2019. The Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) supported the implementation of the new norm for instance by training teachers and education providers. However, the amount of support started to decrease in 2016 although the last grades did not transfer to teaching according to the new core curriculum until in 2019.
The skills needed in future working life have been promoted in education, but the teaching staff are concerned by the haste and major differences in pupils’ initial competence level. In order to support uniform teaching of the skills, EDUFI should improve the prerequisites for cooperation between education providers. EDUFI could, for example, develop practices and digital tools that would enable education providers to share good practices in the preparation, implementation, and monitoring of local curricula.
The annual costs of basic education have amounted to almost EUR 5 billion. The costs are borne by the education providers together with the state. Each year, the number of pupils falling within the scope of basic education is more than 500,000. The fact that the future labour force masters the skills needed in future working life has an impact on Finland’s future competitiveness, national economy, and central government finances.
The audit was part of an international parallel audit, and an English version of the audit report was published in the joint publication of the parallel audit.