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Solution-based School Culture, Finland

In Joutseno School positive psychology and solution-based orientation has been implemented in the school’s culture in order to improve pupils’ learning outcomes and welfare. The most important goals are to develop leadership, interaction between staff and pupils, working in networks as well as interaction between school staff and carers. In the video principal Heikki Laivamaa tells about backround information about solution-based school culture, the roles of principal, teachers and pupils and the effect of solution-based on the learning community.

Why do we developed a solution-based school culture?

There were problems in our school where we wanted change. In addition to learning outcomes and peace and quiet of work, we want to improve the pupil’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. We want the pupils to take responsibility for their learning and to feel good at school. There will be less bullying and challenging behavior when we promote pupils’ emotional and social skills. We also want our staff to feel good and to solve obstacles in learning and succeeding. And we want to improve co-operation with carers.

We believe that even difficult issues can be solved when problems are transformed into goals. Directing attention to earlier experiences of success and skills promotes reaching the goals. Changes in other people’s behaviour will happen only if we first change our own behaviour. In our school we talk about all issues and people in a positive way and believing in the future.

How do we do this?

In the city of Lappeenranta 70% of all school staff has participated in a wide solution-based training. In addition, all superiors have been trained to apply solution-based orientation in their supervisory work. We also use models and programs proven to be good such as Finnish Schools on the move, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports and school-based antibullying program KiVa school.

In our school the first thing in the beginning was to find out what obstacles for learning and succeeding  adults have made. After that we created a vision and a strategy. Then we informed carers, pupils and staff about the change and clarified our actions. The number of school regulations was limited to four agreements of behaviour. We practise social skills and conduct disciplinary educational discussions with our pupils.

As a school principal I strengthen and authorize the staff. I encourage them to try different kind of solutions. We believe that failure is a learning experience. To keep this direction demands repetition and persistence – we evaluate our practices and approach regularly.

Teaching is differentiated and pupils are allowed to set individual learning goals for their learning. Evaluation is not judging but varied feedback that encourages learning.  We have developed teaching by taking into account the needs of children with ADHD and, for example, increasing learning environments, functionality, information and communication technologies and physical exercise has benefited all learners.

What do we get?

Pupils have learned to take responsibility for themselves and they want to do the right thing. Their motivation, learning outcomes and wellbeing have improved. Learning at your own pace promotes both progress of gifted pupils and learning of pupils who need support in their own classes.

Teachers have worked together creating functional lessons based on themes combining the content of different subjects. Co-teaching has increased. The school has developed a common reward system based on common agreements. Our way of communication has changed and is now solution-based.

Further reading


Association for Positive Behavior Support

Response to Intervention

Growth Mindset – Fixed Mindset

Written by

Merja Koivisto
Consulting Teacher
Valteri Centre for Learning and Consulting