School day and practical matters

On this page, you can find inportant information term dates and holidays, school meals and menus, cooperation between the home and school, absences, journeys to and from school, insurance and introduction-to-working-life periods (TET-periods).

On this page

School day

In addition to lessons, school days include many other things, such as breaks and school meals. The length of lessons may vary from school to school. The class schedule provides a framework for the school week.

The school day is supplemented with clubs and hobbies at school and morning activities and after-school activities for small school children.

Morning: the school day starts in the school yard. Pupils are invited in. Clothes and outdoor shoes are left in the cloakroom or cupboard. Pupils go to their classrooms where the teacher starts the lesson. Lessons can also take place outside the school premises, for example in a forest, in the local area or in the library.

Recess: usually a lesson lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, after which pupils go to recess. During recess, pupils spend time in the school yard. School adults supervise recess. At the end of the break, pupils go back to their classrooms.

Lunch: The school serves a free lunch to pupils every school day. The teacher guides the pupils to the cafeteria for lunch. Lunch includes a warm meal, salad, bread, a drink and sometimes dessert. A parent or guardian can notify the school about the pupil’s allergies and food restrictions, and they can be taken into account during lunch. Pupils can always have more food and drink if they want to. After lunch, pupils return the cutlery they have used for washing.

Afternoon: After lunch and recess the lessons continue. At the end of the school day, pupils go home.

After the school day, many schools and local organisations organise after-school activities, clubs and hobbies that pupils can sign up for and take part in.

The school day may also include school assemblies and events. Sometimes the school also organises visits and excursions outside the school. Parents and guardians are informed of these in advance, and their permission for the pupil to participate will be asked.

School meals and menus

Our schools have six-week rotating lunch menus. There are two choices of main course daily, one of which is a vegetarian option. 
Read more about school meals and browse the menus 

Lapset ruokailee koulussa
Photo: Jefunne Gimpel

Term dates and holidays

School term dates and holidays for the following school year are usually decided in November. Schools can opt to run on one Saturday to replace one school day. 
See school term dates and holidays

Co-operation between school and home

Promoting pupils' well-being and learning is a shared responsibility of home and school. Communal spirit in school is built together.

The principles of co-operation between the school and home are defined in the school curriculum. They include parent meetings, individual parent sessions and electronic communication via the Wilma system.

In practice, co-operation and shared responsibilities are agreed upon by the school and guardians.

The Wilma system provides you with information on your child's education and arrangements in school. You can contact teachers and the principal directly through Wilma.

You will receive a Wilma ID at the beginning of the autumn period from the school where your child has started comprehensive school. Wilma is also used by pupils to monitor their own studies.

Log in to Wilma(Link leads to external service) 

See our easy Wilma user guidance videos on YouTube. (Link leads to external service) With this videos you will learn how to create your Wilma credentials, what the basic features of Wilma are and how to send messages. 

Each school has a board that consists of parent representatives nominated by the parents. The Education Committee selects the school board members for a four-year term.  One of the board's tasks is to approve the school’s action plan annually.

Many schools also have a parents’ association, which supports the school’s activities. Information on the parents’ associations and their contact details can be found on the school website.


Pupils have the right to receive education and the obligation to participate in instruction. A pupil may be absent from school only if they are ill or have permission to be absent. If your child is ill, report their absence on Wilma.

Permission for other absences may only be granted for a special reason. It is the duty of the guardian to ensure that the pupil does their school assignments normally despite being absent.

Every school day  is important. Here's how you can support you schoolchild's wellbeing and help the child succeed in school:

  • Ensure sufficient nutrition and rest.
  • Talk about school in a positive way and be interested in your child's education.
  • Ask questions and listen to your child talk about homework, friendships and how the child's day has been.

Symptoms leading to absences from school usually first appear at home. If you notice any schoolwork challenges, contact your child's teacher, school social worker, nurse or principal.

Typical signs that can lead to future absences:

  • major difficulties in going to school in the morning 
  • increased somatic symptoms, such as abdominal pain, headache or nausea 
  • recurring requests to stay home for the school day
  • avoidance or fear of social situations
  • changes in behaviour or friendships
  • increased concerns or fears. 

You can apply for permission for your child to be absent from school by submitting an application for absence in Wilma. Permission to be absent for 1–5 days is applied for to the class teacher or homeroom teacher. Permission to be absent for more than five days is applied for to the school principal.

How to apply for absences in Wilma:

  1. Select the ‘Hakemukset ja päätökset’ (applications and decisions) tab in the top menu.
  2.  In the ‘Lomakkeet’ (forms) section on the right side of the page that opens, select an application for absence (Poissaolohakemus).
  3. Fill in and save the form.

Once the principal or teacher has made a decision and has published it, the decision will appear in the ‘Hakemukset ja päätökset’ (applications and decisions) section.

If you are unable to use Wilma, please fill in the Leave of Absence Application form (PDF)(Link leads to external service)and deliver it to the school.

Rise in school absences can be a sign that the pupil is facing health issues or challenges with settling in at school. It is important to identify the reason behind the absences so that we can give our pupils the support they need. 

We have curated guidelines to help our schools address absences. These guidelines include an action plan for our schools to prevent and monitor absenteeism, and support the pupil settle in at school.

Our action plan helps the school staff identify the needs of a pupil at an early stage and to create ways to support the pupil’s school attendance.

In each school, the prevention of absences, planned monitoring and interventions are coordinated by the school's management together with the communal pupil welfare team. School-specific solutions and the division of work and responsibility are specified in every school's individual action plan.

Journeys to and from school

Pupils can receive a school child travel card or special transport for school trips from the Helsinki regional transport, HSL, if certain conditions are met. The HSL school child travel card or special transport can only be attached to one home address entered in the population register at a time. The HSL school child travel card is valid on weekdays from 5.30 to 18.00.

Please note that we support school journeys for pupils studying at the comprehensive schools run by the City of Helsinki.

We support school journeys for pupils studying at City of Helsinki comprehensive schools. Private and state schools are responsible for organising transportation for their pupils themselves.

If the journey from home to the local school of a pupil in grade one to six is a minimum of two kilometres long, the pupil will receive a HSL school child  travel card.

The minimum journey for pupils in grades seven to nine is three kilometres.

Pupils can receive a travel card to a school other than their local school if at least one of the following conditions is met in addition to the length of the journey:

  • The pupil has been admitted to weighted-curriculum education following an aptitude test at a school other than the local school.
  • The pupil has chosen an A language (the first or second foreign language) starting in the 1st or 3rd grade that is taught not at the local school, but at the nearest suitable school.
  • The pupil is in a special needs class.
  • The pupil is in a preparatory education class.
  • The pupil goes to mother tongue classes at another school and the distance between the nearest location that offers the studies and the local school is at least two kilometres (multi-user card).
  • The pupil studies B1 English in the sixth grade, which is taught not at the local school, but at the nearest suitable school.

Apply for an HSL travel card for your child:

  1. Print and fill in the School transport subsidy application, form A.
  2. Submit the application to the school office at your child's school.

As a guardian, you can apply for special transportation for your child if your child cannot manage the school journey independently by public transport. For children using special transportation, two special transport journeys are available per day.

Special transportation is granted on the basis of an expert opinion. Special transportation usually consists of shared taxi rides. A personal transport service is also possible if the need for it is verified by a medical certificate.

Applying for special transportation:

  1. Print and fill in the School transport subsidy application, form B (special transportation of comprehensive school pupils) 
  2. Submit the application to the school office at your child’s school.

If your child is temporarily prevented from travelling independently (as a result of an accident or health care measure), they may receive temporary school transport. 

In order to obtain temporary school transport, submit a medical certificate supporting the need for the transport to the school office at your child’s school. 

If you have any questions about school journeys, please send an e-mail to opens default mail program).

For matters concerning special transport, please contact: opens default mail program).


The City of Helsinki has taken out accident insurance covering all pupils studying at the City's schools. Accidents are covered by public health care. Children’s personal belongings are not covered by the insurance.

The insurance is valid at school, on journeys to and from school and during school-organised events, excursions and school camps. 

In the event of an accident, please contact your child's school, which will forward the matter to the insurance company. Insurance can help you to recover the costs of public health care you have paid for yourself.

During trips related to the school's international activities, pupils are covered by the City's travel insurance, including luggage insurance.

Introduction to working life periods (TET-periods)

The curriculum for pupils in grades seven to nine in comprehensive school includes a period called introduction to working life, or TET for short ('työelämään tutustumisjakso' in Finnish). TET is part of schoolwork, meaning that pupils are not paid for their work. Working life periods last from a few days to two weeks.

The objective of the working life period is for young people to familiarise themselves with companies and the working community they work in and learn more about working life. During the work period, young people get to apply the skills they have learned at school and gain experience in being part of a new community and in a new environment.

Personal experiences with work promote young people's self-esteem and social skills, deepen their knowledge of employment and support them in applying for further studies.

The aim is that pupils find their own place for the working life period and practise job seeking. If they are unable to find a place independently, guardians' and guidance counsellor's support is important.

Before the working life period starts, the pupils must visit the employer, introduce themselves and sign the practice agreement. The meeting must be agreed in advance. 

A young person who is familiarising with work is not yet a fully fledged employee. The workplace must appoint a person in charge of guiding the daily work of the young person.

No heavy or dangerous tasks may be assigned to the young person.

Work week

A pupil's working week is 30 hours. Pupils over the age of 15 can carry out the working life period between the hours of 6.00 and 22.00, and pupils under the age of 15 can work between the hours of 8.00 and 20.00.

Work clothing

The way employees dress and what jewellery or piercings they may wear is often restricted at work. If the workplace requires that employees wear protective or work clothes, the rules of the workplace must be followed.


Each pupil is entitled to a free meal every day in accordance with the Basic Education Act. If the employer does not provide the pupil with a meal, the pupil will eat at the local school or the meal will be arranged in another way.


Any absences from work must be reported to the employer and the guidance counsellor well in advance. Absences are considered absences from school, meaning that they will be recorded in Wilma as normal.

Accidental injuries

Working life periods are activities in accordance with the school curriculum, meaning that the working life period is covered by accident insurance that the City has taken for the pupil. Any accidents occurring at the workplace or the journey to and from the workplace are covered by the accident insurance.


The accident insurance does not include liability insurance. The Tort Liability Act does not specify a minimum age. Those under the age of 18 will compensate for any damage they have caused intentionally or through negligence (e.g. carelessness) themselves. Criminal liability only applies from the age of 15. If a pupil causes damage at the workplace, the employer is requested to inform the person in charge at the school, who is usually the guidance counsellor.

Letter of reference

The young person will receive a letter of reference for their working life period, which they can use when applying for summer jobs or other positions later.

Video on communication and co-operation between the school and home.

Education is teamwork between the family and the school - Video on communication and co-operation between the school and home.