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School autonomy, leadership and student achievement: reflections from Finland

Toni Saarivirta (Institute for Advanced Social Research, IASR, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Kristiina Kumpulainen (University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 12 September 2016



The purpose of this paper is to provide national information on school autonomy, leadership and student achievements in Finland.


The paper is a literature review on Finnish studies focusing on school autonomy, leadership and student achievement. The studies have been reviewed on the basis of a content analysis.


There exists a shortage of studies connecting school leadership to student achievements. School leadership in Finland has been investigated in previous research, especially from the perspective of shared or pedagogical leadership, but vast majority of the studies have focused on teachers and educational staff, not directly on students. An evident reason for this is inaccessible information on school-based data and the nature of education being a “public good”, which is supposed to meet the same standards across the country.


This review will provide the international audience a deeper understanding in the school autonomy and leadership development in Finland.



Saarivirta, T. and Kumpulainen, K. (2016), "School autonomy, leadership and student achievement: reflections from Finland", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 1268-1278.



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