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Title: Reinventing the Finnish comprehensive school system through specialisation : reasons, rationales and outcomes for equity and equality of opportunity
Author: Ylonen, Annamari
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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The passing of radical educational legislation in the 1990s in Finland has had far-reaching impacts on the comprehensive school system. Along with parental choice, schools were able to specialise by dedicating more hours to different subjects. This thesis discusses the phenomenon of specialisation of the comprehensive school using the analytical lens of equity and equality of opportunity. This has not been sufficiently investigated and analysed in the Finnish context. The key questions are: first, what influences the interpretation of national educational policies regarding choice/diversity and equity/equality of opportunity at the local level; second, why and how schools in the case study city have specialised; and third, what impact this has had on equity and equality of opportunity. A small scale, qualitative case study approach was adopted, focusing on one municipality in Finland. Interviews with staff in four schools and with education policy makers were carried out. These were supplemented with an analysis of policy documents at both national and local levels. The findings emphasise decision-making with regard to specialisation and parental 'choice' at schools, education boards and offices, which reflects the particular economic and demographic circumstances in the municipality as well as concerns about social justice. Decisions on further specialisation were affected by financial constraints on the one hand, and concerns about inequities deriving from the introduction of elements of market-oriented reforms on the other. External factors were important in relation to the initial introduction of specialisms, with the municipality requesting schools to take up specialism; internal motives were less significant. The outcomes of some of the educational decision-making - also manifested as a specific interpretation of national education policy priorities and trends - were found to increase inclusiveness, equity and equality of opportunity rather than exclusiveness and selection.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available