City of Helsinki

The Migrant Youth Helsinki Project – Buddyschool

Buddyschool is a model of learning by teaching that emerged from the Migrant Youth Helsinki project, where poorly performing older students help younger students study while also learning themselves. Buddyschool is implemented as part of the school routine, allowing students to support each other’s skills in writing, reading, social interaction and more. Buddyschool boosts the activity, responsibility and self-esteem of older students. So far, Buddyschool has helped hundreds of young immigrants better recognise their own potential and find a more positive attitude for education. Solita and its’ service design unit Palmu helped the City of Helsinki to develop new models in the Migrant Youth Helsinki project.

  • 25

    schools

  • 600

    student tutors

  • 1300

    students

The interviews of young immigrants and their parents revealed that the youth had trouble approaching someone about problems they had with their education. Their parents could not always help, and they felt ashamed to talk to teachers. It was easier for them to approach their friends.

Buddyschool is a way for the youth to take responsibility and find positive experiences in education. The student tutor role is particularly well suited for students who are struggling with their education, as they can improve their self-esteem and sense of worth by helping younger students. Buddyschool student tutors will also receive a reference for their CV, which is important for secondary school students looking for their first summer job or practical training position.

Buddyschool is a success for the youth and schools

Buddyschool has been received well by both schools and their students. The trials completed so far have shown that the model strengthens different learning skills, and improves attitudes in schools through collaboration and breaking class boundaries. Buddyschool supports the operating models laid out by the new national core curriculum and thanks to its low barrier of entry it can be easily expanded to all of Finland.

Buddyschool has been adopted by more than 20 schools and its development is ongoing in cooperation with teachers. The project received the best education innovation award in the Integration 2018 competition and its future looks bright.

Students who often receive negative feedback can get positive feedback through Buddyschool. This feedback increases the confidence students have in their own skills. The students also feel valued in the school community. Many students are now participating for the third year.

– Kirsti Kallansalo, coordinator, Buddyschool