Our school is in Espoo, which is the second largest city in Finland (250000 inhabitants). Espoo is attached to the capital Helsinki and therefore is part of Helsinki metropolitan area. Laajalahti is a small suburb with 3500 inhabitants in eastern Espoo only 10 km from Helsinki city center. Our school is located in the middle of Laajalahti and all of its 250 pupils come more or less from the Laajalahti area.
We have this year 270 pupils in 6 grades and 20 teachers. Our pupils are between 6 and 13 years old. In Finland pupils start studying their second language at the age of 9. In our school they all study English and at the age of 10 they have the possibility to study Swedish as their third language. About 60% of our pupils choose the third language. We have 14 SmartBoards and 1 computerclass. We also use iPads.
Laajalahti is a high income area with mostly single family houses or rowhouses. However there are Espoo city apartments in the area and they are mostly inhabited by families with foreign background. At the moment we have about 10% of non-Finnish pupils in our school.
This project seems to be a perfect way for us to find answers for our challenges, improve our teaching skills, give us more ways to motivate our pupils, bring them closer to other cultures, customs and history, and give them a natural way to use their English language skills.
In the Laajalahti School we recycle our waste. In each class we have three containers - for energy waste, paper and mixed waste. Cardboard is collected separately and empty bottles are recycled. In our lunch cafeteria we have a food waste container. The lost and found clothes we wash and donate to local second-hand shops. Two of our teachers, who are also part of our international team, are responsible for educating and reminding our personnel to save energy, for example, to turn off unnecessary lights and to print and copy 2-sided copies.Once a year we have a cleaning day, when the whole school has a certain street to clean from garbage. We have taken part in "The Baltic Sea project", the goal of which was the well-being of the Baltic sea. All of our teachers involved in the project speak fluent English and all the teachers take part in the project by doing work at our school.
Learning basic skills is our goal for each pupil before leaving our school. We have an efficient system to help the pupils with difficulties in learning basic reading, writing or mathematic skills with the others. We want to use all possible ways of helping each pupil to reach high level of basic skills. We use a lot of technology; computer class and iPads with educational programs and applications to practice and drill basic skill excercises.