28 school coaches have started their job in Helsinki schools

Helsinki has hired 25 school coaches for Finnish-speaking schools and three school coaches for Swedish-speaking schools as permanent employees as of 1 August 2023 (the link to the school list is at the end of the text). The job descriptions of other professionals at schools, such as school social workers and school psychologists, were taken into account in defining the role of school coaches. All of them contribute to the good everyday life at schools with their expertise and activities.
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School coaches play important roles in schools’ everyday life

Communality, cohesion, multi-professional cooperation and group forming of pupils contribute to a good everyday life at schools. According to studies (Karvi, 2022) and practical experience, pupils need more adults in schools who have time for leisurely chatting, asking about their day and being present. Helsinki has been responding to this need by developing school coach activities since 2019.

Helsinki invests in pupils’ well-being, satisfaction at school and sense of community as well as their participation and inclusion. Studies show that satisfaction at school along with community experiences have a positive effect on pupils’ learning. 

School coaches work with the other school staff as safe adults who, among other things, meet and listen to pupils, prevent bullying and loneliness as well as promote a sense of community and good team spirit.

“The presence of school coaches and the participatory approach to pupils’ everyday lives are reflected in the increased cooperation between pupils and adults as well as a warm atmosphere. Participation in anti-bullying activities, encouragement and guidance towards studies as well as cooperation with families and other parties are part of the core work of school coaches,” says Niina Halonen-Malliarakis, Principal of Vesala Comprehensive School.

School coaches are a new type of employee at schools – they do not teach or assess; instead, they focus on interacting with pupils and supporting their well-being. School coaches are wherever the pupils are. For example, they are available during breaks and have time to listen to pupils. They support pupils in working together and guide them to meaningful activities in connection with school days. School coaches participate in educational work with their own professional skills. Together with the other adults of the school, school coaches help ensure that all pupils find their place in the school community. Building team spirit and increasing the sense of security strengthens attachment to the school. 

When the school coaching activities were evaluated in 2021, school staff felt that the work of school coaches had strengthened the interaction between pupils and improved their overall satisfaction at school. In the opinion of the staff, the work of school coaches benefits a wide range of learners. Among the pupils who had received help were those without friends, those who receive a lot of negative feedback as well as young people who have difficulty regulating their emotions or who easily get into conflicts. Pupils described things they had received help with from school coaches:

 “Helps in fights and trouble.”
“Supports me when I have a bad day.”
“Nice, and I feel happy after talking with them.”
“I learned more about emotions through it.”
“They help with bullying; I can talk to them about things.”

Pupils’ well-being is promoted in cooperation

In Helsinki, school coaches engage in multidisciplinary cooperation with other actors, such as youth services, the parish, the police, social services and the third sector. The cooperation carried out by school coaches can take the form of, for example, team building of class groups.

Cooperation between parents/guardians and school staff is part of the job of school coaches. School coaches promote the involvement of guardians in school life and strengthen the sense of community between home and school. 

School coaches schools

Finnish-speaking schools

•    Aurinkolahden peruskoulu
•    Hiidenkiven peruskoulu
•    Itäkeskuksen peruskoulu 
•    Kankarepuiston peruskoulu 
•    Kannelmäen peruskoulu 
•    Keinutien ala-asteen koulu 
•    Kontulan ala-asteen koulu
•    Käpylän peruskoulu
•    Laajasalon peruskoulu
•    Laakavuoren ala-asteen koulu
•    Latokartanon peruskoulu
•    Maatullin peruskoulu
•    Malmin peruskoulu
•    Merilahden peruskoulu 
•    Myllypuron peruskoulu
•    Pitäjänmäen peruskoulu 
•    Porolahden peruskoulu
•    Puistopolun peruskoulu 
•    Pukinmäenkaaren peruskoulu
•    Suutarinkylän peruskoulu
•    Vesalan peruskoulu 
•    Vuoniityn peruskoulu

Swedish-speaking schools

•    Grundskolan Norsen
•    Botby Grundskola
•    Hoplaxskolan