Owing to shorter expat stays and difficulties in learning Finnish, many expats choose to send their children to international schools in Helsinki. The biggest advantage of these schools is that they allow students to continue studying a curriculum with which they’re familiar, often in their home language.
International schools also often boast a wide range of extracurricular activities that aim to holistically develop students. These schools are often fairly pricey, but parents will find that the rigorous academic standards and excellent facilities often make up for the cost.
Parents looking to enrol their children in international schools should be mindful of the school’s distance from their homes and workplaces, as a long commute can be inconvenient. That said, some schools will offer bus and lunch services, sometimes at an additional cost.
International schools can be difficult to get into, so parents should plan well in advance and contact the schools directly for a full list of entrance requirements. Parents should ensure they have their children’s academic and medical records ready and that they help prepare their children for any admission examinations the school may require.
Below is a list of some of the top international schools in Helsinki.
International schools in Helsinki
Deutsche Schule Helsinki
The Deutsche Schule Helsinki offers students the opportunity to learn both the German and Finnish languages and culture in a small group setting. Established in 1881, Deutsche Schule Helsinki offers its over 700 students German and German-Finnish streams, with a focus on holistic student development and success.
Age: 5 to 18
Ecole Française Jules Verne
Ecole Française Jules Verne is a small French-curriculum elementary school that prides itself on providing individualised education. With more than 10 nationalities represented in the student body, Ecole Française Jules Verne offers instruction in French and English. The school has partnerships with the European School of Helsinki and the French-Finnish School of Helsinki, allowing families staying in the city to continue their children’s education at any of these institutions.
Age: 2 to 6
The English School
The English School offers the Finnish Core Curriculum, focusing on phenomenon-based learning that enables its students to make real-world connections to the theory they are learning. As a bilingual school, the English School is home to 720 students who are provided with a motivating learning environment where academic excellence is the priority.
Age: 5 to 18
The International School of Helsinki
The International School of Helsinki (ISH) is a truly globally minded international school whose mission is to develop students’ unique talents through individualised learning. The school has a technology programme integrated with its IB curriculum to inculcate key digital skills in students. ISH’s pedagogical approach is based on inquiry-based learning and student-centred learning, leading to the development of lifelong learners.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Age: 4 to 19
What do expats say about Finnish schools?
"Schools are great in Finland. If the kids do not speak the local language, they will be put in preparatory education first before putting them into the basic primary education where Finnish or Swedish is the language of instruction. I don’t have any experience with this because our kids were born here and speak the language.
Schools in Finland are great. Primary school has very short days, and they have a lot of free time and playtime. They also have a warm lunch every day – they do not have to bring money and pay for their lunch. Every student in the class has a lunch break together with their teacher. " Mercy is a Filipino expat in Finland. Check out her interview with Expat Arrivals where she talks about her experiences in Helsinki.
►See Accommodation in Helsinki to learn about finding a home in the city
Are you an expat living in Helsinki?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Helsinki. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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