Are you thinking about accepting a job offer in Oulu but worried about your children’s education?
Fear not: Oulu International School has the answer, providing high-quality, free English language basic education for children aged 7 to 16, and upper secondary education for those aged 16 to 19.
“I warmly welcome all foreign families moving to Oulu”, Oulu International School (OIS) principal Raija Perttunen opens our conversation with a broad smile.
OIS has 440 students. Half of them come from Finland, the other half from different countries around the world.
“In total, students speak 35 different languages in our school”, says the principal.
What else is special about Oulu International School?
“The language of tuition in our school in English. We have highly qualified teachers – in Finland, you need to have a master’s degree to qualify as a teacher.”
”The Finnish school system is more relaxed”
OIS teaches the Finnish National Curriculum – the foundation for Finland’s excellent educational outcomes. In addition, the school also offers the International Baccalaureate program, IB – a holistic, enquiry-based programme that gives students an internationally-accepted qualification for entry into universities worldwide.
IB is definitely a big draw for students and parents in Oulu.
“To me the most important thing is that the school gives them an IB diploma which is accepted around the world,” confirms Anna Jakubowską from Poland who has three sons at OIS.
Anna and her family lived in China and the Philippines before moving to Oulu so her eldest son Adam, 16, attended two other international schools before joining OIS.
“I wouldn’t say OIS is an easy school but it’s easygoing”, says Adam. “It’s certainly not very stressful.”
The atmosphere at OIS is friendly and supportive. Students don’t have a uniform and they address teachers by their first names.
“The Finnish school system is more relaxed than others. We have more breaks and school days are shorter. Children have more time for after-school activities and exercise”, Raija Perttunen explains.
”I got some friends very quickly”
Despite students spending less time at school than they would in many other countries, OIS’ academic results are excellent. This is very much appreciated by parents used to more formal education models.
“My sons are learning a lot in a relaxed way and in a good atmosphere. That’s why I’m very happy with the school”, says Lekha Kutty from India who has two sons at OIS.
Her elder son Advaith is 12. He’s been in OIS for six years and has friends from many different countries. One of them is Michael, 12, from Poland.
“It’s great to be in an international environment because you learn so much first-hand about other cultures. Friends tipped me off about an Indian restaurant in Oulu which is brilliant”, he says.
“I joined the school two years ago and I felt very welcome. People introduced me to everybody, showed me around, and I got some friends very quickly”, adds Michael.
Michael’s brother, 10-year-old Peter agrees:
“The best thing about school is playing with friends. I want to be a football player or a trainer when I grow up and the school is definitely helping me to achieve my goal.”
Advaith is not yet sure about his future career but he agrees that the school supports everybody in their choices. “My favourite subject is maths and it’s taught very well at OIS.”
“Oulu International School is the place for your children”, says Raija Perttunen with conviction.
“All this wonderful, high-quality education is offered to everybody with an address in the Oulu area free of charge.”
The principal’s assessment of the Finnish education system is confirmed by research. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducts an annual programme for international student assessment, known as PISA. Results from PISA suggest that Finland’s performance is consistently well above average in reading, mathematics and science.
Text and video: Erika Benke