Helsinki, Finland Report of what it's like to live there - 05/24/22
Personal Experiences from Helsinki, Finland
International School of Helsinki
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
3. What years did you live here?
2019 - 2022
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
This is the main international school so most people start here. A number of U.S. embassy families leave after starting and opt for the International School of Espoo and others.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
There's an orientation day for new students prior to the start of school
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
If anything there's too much communication. Lots of emails, newsletters, communication portals and apps to monitor, etc.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Minimal other expenses
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
Both are available
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Decent sized library from which students can check out books
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Yes, modern resources
5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
School provides iPads; lots of tech usage
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There's a gym. The school also uses local public playgrounds and fields right by the school for PE.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Class sizes are about 15-20.
8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
At the elementary level the school is less challenging that U.S. public schools
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Very little homework
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Basics like music and art
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Teachers all speak English
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
The school will say they accommodate learning differences but many embassy families have found this not to be true in reality
15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There's an elevator and some physical disabilities can likely be accommodated
16. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
There are a few after-school activities offered by the school but no formal school sports teams
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
Outwardly the school is supportive. There's no overt discrimination. However, in our experience, the school is unwilling and/or unable to support social-emotional challenges LGBT+ kids often face.
2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?
I do not find this to be a good choice for kids with special needs.
3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
ISH is 99% expats
4. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
Lots of problems with bullying that, in my experience, ISH hasn't been able to address, leading to a number of embassy kids leaving
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
It's a fine option if your kid is a typical learner with zero academic or social-emotional special needs during your tour
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Ice skating for PE in the winters