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The school

Joensuun normaalikoulu, the University Teacher Training School at Joensuu, is situated in North Karelia in the eastern part of Finland. The school is a state-financed practice school - a professional development school - that administratively is a part of the Faculty of Education. University-owned primary and secondary schools such as Joensuun normaalikoulu are a special feature in the organization of Finnish teacher education. The general aim of this internationally unique provision is to strengthen the link between instruction and research and to integrate the theory and practice of teaching.

Above all, Joensuun normaalikoulu is a regular school that offers primary and general secondary education to its pupils. The school includes both a comprehensive school (age group 7-15) and senior secondary school (age group 16-18). Joensuun normaalikoulu also has special responsibilities pertaining to the teacher education provided by the University of Joensuu. These responsibilities include:

  • planning the programme for student-teaching and guiding and supervising the student teachers in their teaching practice and professional development
  • developing primary and secondary school curriculum and instruction by experimental programmes, development projects and research work
  • providing short-term in-service education and refresher courses for teachers of comprehensive and secondary schools.

These special responsibilities are shared with the Faculty of Education. Major experimental programmes are carried out in collaboration with the National Board of Education and may require the approval of the Ministry of Education.

There are 900 pupils and 75 full-time teachers in Joensuun normaalikoulu. In the academic year 2008-2009, there are 350 pupils and 30 teachers at the lower stage of the comprehensive school (pre-school group and grades 1-6). At the upper stage of the comprehensive school (junior secondary school, grades 7-9) there are 204 pupils and in the senior secondary school there are 345 students and 60 teachers. All the three stages are "schools within a school".

Joensuun normaalikoulu has two separate school buildings. The upper stage of the comprehensive school and the senior secondary school are placed in the same building. The pre-school group and lower grades have a new building. From the architectural point of view all the buildings are planned to support the modern idea of learning environments (for instance a spacious study hall in the centre of the building). The whole school is situated in the campus area of the University of Joensuu offering all the services of the university including the university library. Various sports facilities are easily available, as well as the natural environment, both of which are used in out-of-school education.

A considerable part of the teachers' work in Joensuun normaalikoulu is being a teacher educator. The teachers are required to have higher qualifications than normally. About 95 % of the teaching staff have at least a Master's degree. Several teachers have a post-graduate degree and close to 20 teachers are working on post-graduate degrees and doing research work. Several teachers have published school books and guidebooks for teachers. Many of them are also nationally well-known experts and lecturers in their field.

The teacher education provided by the University of Joensuu is exceptionally extensive both in numbers and in scope. The university faculties educate subject teachers and student counsellors for the comprehensive and the upper secondary school as well as class teachers and special teachers for the comprehensive school. All these groups of future teachers participate in guided and evaluated student teaching at the university practice school. Each year there are about 350-400 trainee teachers working in Joensuun normaalikoulu. The quest for flexible and more broadly-based teaching qualifications will present both pre-service and in-service teacher education with many opportunities.

An agreement between the University of Joensuu and the Ministry of Education states that Joensuun normaalikoulu as a university school will pay special attention to developing the use of information technology in instruction, the teaching of mathematics and physics, and providing possibilities for research in these areas as well as in learning theories. In the autumn 1999, a special line was founded in the senior secondary school to widen the teaching of the particular field. Furthermore, the whole school puts emphasis on developing environmental and science education. The pre-school and primary education teachers work together to develop curriculum and learning material in their field.

Joensuun normaalikoulu also co-operates with other university teacher training schools in Finland and with the National Board of Education as far as the experimental programmes and development projects are concerned. The school is a UNESCO-school, actively building up network cooperation based on modern information technology with various European schools.


Petri Salo
Leading Principal
petri.salo (at)

Marita Hokkanen
Principal  of Upper Secondary School
marita.hokkanen (at)

Heikki Happonen
Principal of  Comprehensive School
heikki.happonen (at)