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Want to know how to reform education? Ask a 3-year-old, says Finnish minister

The government of high-performing Finland has asked children at preschools, nurseries and kindergartens what they think of their education, the country's education minister has said.

Krista Kiuru, a former drama teacher, told the Wise education conference in Qatar this morning that reforming early years was a priority for the Finnish government.

As a result, she explained, she wanted to know what her "customers" made of their experience at school.

Finland's education system is widely admired around the world and has regularly finished high up in international league tables such as Pisa. Other counties, including England, have partly based reforms on its schools.

As well as consulting parents, Ms Kiuru explained that schools had set up their 3- to 6-year-old pupils with cameras and asked them to photograph the parts of their education that they did and did not like.

"It has been a very fruitful process for educators - we learnt a lot," she said. "We wanted to know what kind of early education they should have. It's like a customer service isn't it? 

"So we asked them to photograph the places they hated and the places that they loved. What I loved was that we would build these new buildings with big halls and it turns out that our kids hate them - what we value is different between the generations.

"Our kids loved all the things that related to games and being physically active; places where they can hide; they hated rooms that are for calming down."

Ms Kiura also made a passionate defence of the role of play in the early years curriculum.

"The most important thing in early childhood education is making sure kids have enough time to play. Children do not play to learn, they learn while playing. In early education we teach kids to be lifelong learners because they learn to learn," Ms Kiuru added.

Related Stories:

"Scrapping school inspections is a bad idea" warns Finnish expert:  2 November 2014

Early years education must be an election priority, say campaigners: 23 April 2014

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