Finnish education – the best in the world.
World-class Education for Principals.
Principal Academy Finland.

Principal Academy Finland


Finnish schools are not among the best in the World by chance. They are also led and managed exceptionally well. It is the principals and headmasters who lay the foundation for equality and trust in Finnish schools. It is they who make sure that teachers and students can perform at their best and achieve outstanding results.

“Principals’s area of responsibility has increased considerably. The leader and manager of everyday operations of the school has become the pedagogical and strategic leader who is also responsible for the finances and the safety of the school. — The principal is certainly like a multi-sport athlete who has to see the big picture while taking action locally. Therefore, in order to succeed, principals must have a clear understanding of what their job is about. This lays the foundation for long-term work that does not waver with the shifting trends.”

Ari Pokka, President of the International Confederation of Principals:
Top class – Finnish school leadership and management, 2016

Finland’s excellent learning outcomes (e.g. in OECD’s Pisa tests) are not only a testimony to research-based pedagogy and innovativeness towards teaching and learning – but also to first-class leadership and management in Finnish schools. During the one-month study program of Principal Academy Finland, principals, headmasters and administrators from all over the world can now learn more about the supreme ideology and the best practices of Finland’s world-class educational system.

Principal Academy Finland (PAF) is a high-caliber further education program specifically designed for principals and school administrators outside of Finland. Held in Tampere, Finland, this diverse and comprehensive program lasts one month, in April-May or October-November 2018.

Who is this for?

The program is meant for principals, headmasters, head of schools, superintendents, executive directors, and other school administrators who want to learn more about a world-class educational system and how it is led.

Principal Academy Finland Program

The program consists of five modules of contact instruction and one module of individual development work. All five modules include on-campus studying (theory) and visits to Finnish schools and/or shadowing and discussion with Finnish school principals.
Schedule: program is organized every spring and autumn.
Location: Tampere, Finland
Length: one month contact instruction + individual development project
Price: 4900 € + VAT 24 %
Dates: TBC

Learn more about:

• The Program Content

  1. Introduction to the Finnish Education System (1 week)
      • Finnish society, culture and education system
      • Learning concepts in the Finnish education system
      • Curriculum, assessment and evaluation in Finnish education
      • Special education, integration, support systems and guidance in Finnish education
      • Information and communication technology in basic education
      • Lectures, workshops and visits


  2. Shadowing Finnish principals (1 week)
      • Benchmarking the work of the Finnish principals


  3. Key competences of the principal (1 week)
      • School’s core mission
      • Self-development: professional growth, self-management, own well-being at work
      • Facilitating the working community’s ability to work
      • Human resource leadership: knowledge management, leading well-being at work
      • Organizational development: vision, strategies
      • Administration and finance
      • Networks and stakeholders
      • Pedagogical leadership
      • System thinking
      • Lectures, workshops and visits


  4. Sustainable, interactive and shared leadership (1 week)
      • Learning organizations: the school as a learning community
      • Leading people: leading diversity, well-being, competence and performance
      • Leading change
      • Coaching
      • Lectures, workshops and visits


  5. Individual development project (distance learning)
      • Modern leadership literature and reflection on participant’s own work


  6. The Future of education – Final seminar (3 days)


• Working methods during the program

Each module includes on-campus learning at the Principal Academy Finland, shadowing principals, and interaction with principals, teachers and students in Finnish schools.

The program is based on research and on a deep understanding of the Finnish educational mindset. It takes a practical approach and develops each participant’s skills and capacities. The focus is to mirror educational mindsets and practices, as well as to develop the participant’s own thoughts on education and leadership.

The program is stimulating and based on practical application. During PAF, the participants will be introduced to a variety of leadership practices used in Finnish education and participants will have the opportunity to learn to use them in their own work.

• Experts

The staff of Principal Academy Finland consists of experienced and internationally respected trainers, who are experts in the field of Finnish education and school leadership. The trainers have over 25 years of experience in leadership training in Finland and abroad. This experience has developed an academically based, yet truly practical approach to developing leadership skills.

Director of the program:
Juha Lahtinen, MA (Education)

Elina Harju, MA (Education)
Reijo Jouttimäki, MA (Education)
Johanna Järvinen-Taubert, MA (Education)
Päivi Valtonen, Licenciate (Education)

The program’s supervisor is Professor Emerita Annikki Järvinen, PhD (Education) from the University of Tampere, and its International Coordinator is Ellimaija Ahonen, MA (Social Sciences)

• Advanced programs – continuous professional development (3 days)

Being a school leader or education developer means constant and continuous professional development. Principal Academy Finland offers up-to-date advanced trainings to PAF graduates and anyone who wants to develop their school leadership skills further.

Each module lasts for three days. The modules are priced independently and most of them can be organized outside of Finland as well.

Advanced training modules:
Training A: Internationalization of the students, staff and school
Training B: Schools of the future: architecture and new way of learning
Training C: Student-centered school and leadership
Training D: Solving challenging situations at school
Training E: Promoting learning: innovative teaching methods and pedagogy
Training F: Digitalization in education sector
Training G: School as a learning community and shared leadership – how to promote these in one’s own school
Training H: Efficient school management and administration

Our promise

After completing Principal Academy Finland the participants will be progressive education leaders, who can remarkably improve the quality of both teaching and learning in their own schools. The graduates of PAF are true pedagogical leaders, who have the skills to build outstanding learning communities and lead and manage their organizations effectively.

Principal Academy Finland is based on Finnish educational knowledge and practices; PAF gives participants a unique opportunity to develop their professional skills. The participants are encouraged to reflect on their own leadership mindset and practices, and to adapt Finnish educational culture to their own cultures and contexts. The practical and stimulating study program includes a variety of leadership practices used in Finnish education.

Would you like to know more? Contact us!