Professionals guiding the individual students

Professionals offering individual support

The Finnish basic education system has been based on the philosophy of inclusion for a long time. Basic education is the same for all. In order to be able to provide equal opportunities for learning to every pupil, support actions play a key role. Inclusion and individual learning support requires different professionals available for the needs of students. Modern teaching professionalism involves active co-operation between teachers, teaching assistants, other professionals and parents.

Special education teacher

The teacher whose expertise is there to provide support for individual needs

  • Special needs teachers and special class teachers provide special needs education and individual support for pupils with varying needs.
  • Special needs education may be necessary due to mental, physical, behavioural or other reasons. Gifted pupils and students might also need special support for their studies.
  • Special needs teachers require knowledge of special needs education and teaching as well as an understanding and acceptance of differences.
  • Special needs teachers might work in all the education levels or in varying types of institutions.
  • In Finnish education, the general target is to follow the philosophy of an inclusive education. The aim is to facilitate basic education in the pupil’s home school. Through support and flexible methods, many of the individual learning needs can be met within a general classroom and curriculum.
  • The fundamental principle of Finnish education is to provide equal opportunities for learning and growth to every pupil or student. Support for learners plays a key role.
  • The support is organised systematically through a three-step- model. The focus is on the earliest possible support in order to prevent the growth of problems.
  • The special needs teacher is usually a teacher of all the pupils of the school. The role involves intensive co-operation with class teachers, noticing the possible support actions needed and facilitating the methods according to the individual study plans. A significant team member of the special needs teacher is often an educational assistant. (Scroll down for more information)
  • Special class teachers work intensively with their own class with a small number of pupils who need full-time special needs support. Within recent years, the number of special classes has decreased significantly as the support has been brought actively to the circumstances of a general education.

The Special needs teacher’s study programme

  • In the University of Eastern Finland, the special education teacher’s education is arranged by the School of Educational Sciences and Psychology
  • The master’s degree consists of the theoretical studies, research work and multiple training periods in different work circumstances.
  • The major subject of study is special needs pedagogy, which is accompanied by one free-choice minor subject.
  • Students gain a comprehensive knowledge of special needs pedagogy and teaching.
  • Studies deal with education and teaching as well as subjects on the individual nature of learning.
  • Pedagogical research and the conducting of research in special needs pedagogy are also addressed.
  • Read more from the UEF’s webpage.

Guidance counsellor

Professional support for pupils’ individual study or career paths

  • A guidance counsellor provides study and career guidance in all the education levels and at a variety of educational institutions.
  • The guidance counsellor’s role varies from group interventions to a pupil’s personal guiding processes.
  • The guidance counsellors are helping students searching for suitable options according to their future plans, making the connections and training periods with companies possible, and supporting students’ entrepreneurial path.
  • Guidance counselling is one of the topics in the national curriculum that educators must provide according to the students’ needs.

The Guidance counsellor’s study programme

  • Becoming a guidance counsellor requires a university-based master’s degree.
  • Guidance counsellor education gives students wide-ranging counselling expertise and professional skill to provide support to people going through changes in their study or career paths and needing assistance and advice in making life decisions.
  • Guidance counsellor education provides students with the statutory qualifications to serve as guidance counsellors, subject teachers (depending on the minor subject studies) and multiple professional skills to work in an advisory capacity in the provision of study and career guidance.
  • Guidance counselling is a multidisciplinary field based on counselling psychology and pedagogy.
  • Studies are completed in lectures as well as workshops, seminars and practical training.
  • Guidance counsellors can custom-tailor their own degree with a wide range of minor subjects.
  • Read more from the UEF’s webpage.

Education assistant

Multitasking professional supporting school work and running the club activities

  • Education assistants are offering truly precious extra hands for varying tasks for enabling the quality activities and functioning in the field of education.
  • The assistants work as a co-worker with teachers on all the education levels from early education to upper secondary education.
  • Within basic education, the assistant usually belongs to a team of a class teacher or a special needs teacher, or then works as an assistant of many groups.
  • Through the assistant expertise, it is possible to make the benefit of multiple and varying teaching methods. A large group of pupils can be shared into smaller teams, and the use of several learning environments is possible when professionals team up. However, teachers always hold the pedagogical and curriculum-based responsibility of the education work.
  • Another typical key role for an assistant is also to work as a personal guide to a pupil with special needs.
  • Education assistants often run the morning and afternoon activities within basic education premises in addition to the school hours. The younger the pupils, the shorter the school days are. For instance, afternoon clubs run by a familiar professional are truly needed.

Education for assistants

  • Assisting the school work and guiding morning and afternoon activities – a study programme leads to a Vocational Qualification in the field of education.
  • The programme is conducted for workers in an education assistant role in order to gain professional capability. The programme is arranged through methods of Multiform learning when it enables the possibility for working while studying.
  • The expertise of the assistants is widely needed within the field of education, thus this study model for developing professionalism is valuable to a great extent.
  • The education is arranged by Riveria – municipal education and training consortium.

Joensuu areas special learners- association (JOSE ry)

  • The purpose of the organisation is to help people with learning disabilities.
  • The main target is to support and guide different kind of learners in overcoming challenges with their studies.
  • The organisation offers several services including information, support, counselling and learning tools. There are also courses and weekly activities offered.
  • The workers of the association are professionals from the field of special education and learning.
  • There are also volunteering personnel supporting activities, especially when organising events of a larger scale.
  • Services and materials are mostly free.
  • Mobile devices and applications have brought multiple new possibilities and options for learners who benefit from additional support. From the Joensuu area special learners’ association’s website, one can find a useful tip list of the suitable applications that aid learning.
  • Is there a need for similar services in your organisation or area?
  • Would you benefit from familiarising yourself with running an association supporting special learners?
  • Read more from the webpage of the association.


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