Why are Finnish kids smarter than ours?

I find this fascinating, partly because my daughter Maddy is signed up to go to primary school in January, at the tender age of 4 and a half. It’s interesting to contrast what the expert on finnish education says about class sizes with reports in the education guardian (and other places) about the ‘cost effectiveness’ of reducing class sizes.

The guardian report states that Prof.  Dylan Wiliams recommends that using AfL techniques:

could provide eight extra months of educational development for only £2,000 per classroom per year.


Cutting class size by 30% gives children the equivalent of four extra months of learning a year, but costs around £20,000 for each class every year.

Prof. Wiliams would say that, wouldn’t he?  As author of ‘Inside the black box’ and other works on AfL he might be expected to push this as a solution that will work better than cutting down on class sizes.  To be fair, Wiliams goes on to explain that AfL isn’t a magic wand, and requires investement in terms of CPD and time.

In my experience it’s time that teachers lack, and large amounts of admin, marking and preparation for large classes contribute massively to the lack of time that teachers have to take on board the fantastic opportunities that AfL offers teachers and learners.

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