, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 281–292 | Cite as

Responding to diversity and striving for excellence: The case of Finland

  • Hannu Savolainen
Open File


The implementation of inclusive education has become an internationally accepted goal. In this process a substantial challenge is to simultaneously increase both equality and quality in inclusive education. This article discusses ways of achieving this goal in light of recent research findings which indicate that it is possible to meet both goals at once. The findings of various studies on the Finnish comprehensive school reform, along with recent learning outcomes, support this conclusion. During the comprehensive school era, equality has increased, performance gaps have decreased, and student achievement has improved overall. Possible reasons for this are that Finnish educational policy development has not followed international mainstream trends and that flexible and extensive special education provisions have been built into our school system. Internationally acknowledged requirements for a good education are competent teachers and a school system’s commitment to take on the responsibility of educating children of all abilities.


Inclusive education Special education Student performance 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special EducationUniversity of JoensuuJoensuuFinland

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