School choice policies and practices in Finnish comprehensive schooling

Dr. Sonja Kosunen, University of Helsinki and professor Piia Seppänen, University of Turku

Parental choice and pupil selection have been applied in a publicly run and in principle non-selective compulsory school system of Finland since late 1990s. School choice policies and practices in Finnish cities seems to influence the between-school and within-school differences in reputation and mediate the pupil composition in schools. This is mainly due to pupil selection to teaching of a special subject emphasis and its provision in a permanent classroom setting.

The actual possibilities of choosing a school are not similar to all families: the accessibility of information concerning the choice, the role of resources and social networks and the willingness and the capacities of making a choice differ according to social background. In addition, the practices of pupil selection conducted by the schools seem to benefit the families from higher social backgrounds in complex ways.

In this presentation we discuss research findings regarding school choice policies and practices in urban Finland.