Finland’s principals adopt Aussie wellbeing toolkit

Finland’s principals adopt Aussie wellbeing toolkit

A ground-breaking new partnership has the potential for Australia to showcase its quality education solutions on the world stage.

This week, Finland’s principals announced they would adopt a successful initiative developed by Australia’s National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative (NESLI).

NESLIs Staff Wellbeing Toolkit is a direct response to the international Principal Health & Wellbeing Survey, which points directly to the need for global school leaders to attend to occupational health, safety and wellbeing within the workplace.

The announcement follows a whirlwind by NESLI’s national director, Damien Farrell, to Helsinki, Finland, where he launched the Toolkit at Finland’s National Conference for School Principals.

Since its Australian launch in 2017, the program has been undertaken by almost 6,000 individuals from over 240 Australian schools, including schools across New Zealand in partnership with CORE Education.

As part of the resource’s roll-out, NESLI will be collaborating with the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Dr Philip Riley, and the Board of the Finnish Association of Principals.

“This exciting partnership illustrates the potential for Australia to take quality education solutions onto the world stage.” Farrell said.

Dr Anna Dabrowski, Director of Education and Evaluation, has emphasised the importance of the Staff Wellbeing Toolkit to the education sector:

“Based on the responses of more than 2,700 participants, our data indicates that educators are time poor, unhealthy, anxious, and lonely,” Dr Dabrowski said.

“Yet after completing the toolkit, 97% of participating schools reported to have improved their wellbeing and social capital levels.”

Dr Dabrowski said Toolkit graduates speak of improved relationships in the workplace, higher rates of job satisfaction, reduced anxiety and stress, and higher levels of happiness.

‘A beautiful handshake’

Antti Ikonen, the head of the Finnish Association of Principals said the partnership was a “beautiful handshake” between the two organisations. 

“Based on the first impression, the toolbox seems easy to deploy. It does not take too much time, but is still obviously effective,” Ikonen told The Educator

Ikonen said the Toolbox also has a “well-constructed form and purpose”, and the user experiences from it appear to be very positive.

“It is important that, besides the loadability study, you also work at the same time to make things better for the whole work community. Our goal, however, is to ultimately increase the wellbeing of the whole community, starting with the pupils and covering all school staff,” he said.

“Above all, we expect that we get clear answers to questions on how Finnish school leaders are doing. We also hope to have an opportunity to compare what the situation in Finland is compared to those countries where research has already been done.”

Ikonen said it is also very important to Finnish principals that the study has delved deeply into the issues of well-being among school leaders. 

“We hope that during this co-operation understanding of the workload of  school heads will gain new dimensions, and that co-operation will also be intensified between our two countries,” Ikonen said.

Ikonen said he also hopes that schools will maintain desirable workplaces in the future and that talented teachers will also apply to the important profession of school leaders. 

“However, the school is the place where we work for a better future, and in this respect our work does not know the boundaries between countries, but vice versa,” he said.


Dr Phil Riley has been contacted for comment.