The Government decides on the general national objectives of general upper secondary education for young people. Government decides also the allocation of the time to be used for instruction in different subjects and for student counselling.
The national core curriculum ( Lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2019 ) is determined by the Finnish National Agency for Education The national core curriculum includes the objectives and core contents of different subjects. It also includes the principles of pupil assessment, pupil welfare and educational guidance.
Education providers and schools draw up their own local curricula based on the national curricula. The local curricula provide students with an opportunity for individual choices of studies, including often also instruction given by other education providers.
The syllabus includes a minimum of 75 study courses. Studies are divided into compulsory, specialisation and applied courses. The number of compulsory courses varies between 47-51, depending on the choice between basic and advanced syllabus in mathematics.
Specialisation courses are optional advanced courses that primarily are directly related to the compulsory courses in the subject. The schools must provide these courses for the students to choose their options. National specialisation courses are courses offered as specialisation courses for which the Finnish National Agency for Education has prepared a core curriculum. The student must select at least ten of these courses in his or her study plan. In addition, the upper secondary school can provide local specialisation courses defined in the local curriculum.
The applied courses are integrative courses, including elements from various subjects, methodological courses, or other school-specific courses. There are national and local applied courses. Applied courses are
vocational courses offered by the same or other education provider
integrating courses containing elements of different subjects
other studies within the remit of the upper secondary school.
The provider of general upper secondary education decides on the inclusion of applied courses in the curriculum and they are elective for students.
There are optional upper secondary school diplomas for students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge of following areas
General upper secondary school diplomas complement the skills and knowledge which the students have achieved and demonstrated in general upper secondary school leaving certificate and matriculation examination.
Subjects in general upper secondary education
The following table outlines the distribution of lesson hours in general upper secondary education for young people. In order to arrange the schoolwork in each school year, there is an overall school schedule, which is based on the curriculum.
The duration of a lesson must be at least 45 minutes. The average scope of one course is 38 lessons. Consequently, in order to reach the number of lessons, the number of courses on the time allocation table should be multiplied by 38.
Distribution of lesson hours in general upper secondary education for young people, 2014
Number of national courses offered as specialisation courses
Mother tongue and literature
8 + 8
Common study unit
Environmental and natural sciences
Humanities and social sciences
Religion/culture, worldview and ethics
Arts and physical education
47 – 51
Specialisation courses, minimum
Total number of courses, minimum
The number of compulsory courses varies between 47-51, depending on the choice between basic and advanced syllabus in mathematics. The entire syllabus in general upper secondary education for young people comprises 75 courses.
All students study at least two languages.
ICT is not a separate subject but schools may offer optional courses in ICT. More important than separate subjects are wide-ranging cross-curricular themes described in the national core curriculum. Cross-curricular themes are transversal competence areas crossing the boundaries of individual subjects. Cross-curricular themes have been taken into consideration in the sections on individual subjects as well as in themes that guide the development of the school culture. One cross-curricular theme is technology and society. The goal of this cross-curricular theme is to enhance the student's understanding of the interaction between technological and societal development. The perspectives for developing technology include creativity and problem-solving, appropriateness and functionality as well as a sustainable future. Key contents related to the development of information and communication technology include the change of lifestyles, the operating environment, and the society.
As mentioned in chapter 6.1, some general upper secondary schools have special educational tasks, granted by the The Ministry of Education and Culture. These specialised upper secondary schools emphasise their instruction in accordance with their special educational tasks, but they do offer the opportunity to complete an ordinary study programme. Specialised upper secondary schools primarily function in the following fields
art and media
There are 16 upper secondary schools which offer instruction leading to the International Baccalaureate IB and one to Deutsche Internationale Abitur.
National Core Curriculum for Upper Secondary Schools 2015 (available in Finnish)
Teaching methods and materials
Teachers have the autonomy to decide on the teaching methods and materials. Teachers are recommended to guide students to use new technologies such as digital learning materials and environments.
Learning materials are mostly produced by commercial publishers. There is no inspection of learning materials. The Finnish National Agency for Education produces materials with a small circulation and for minority groups subsidised by the government.
Teachers and education providers may utilise a national website - updated by the Finnish National Agency for Education - that contains information and support for teaching, such as online learning material. The Finnish website can be found at www.edu.fi
Study material - books, tools and devices - are offered to students in general upper secondary schools.
There is no official regulation regarding homework.