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Frequently asked questions

Here you can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about education in different languages in Helsinki. If you still need help, please contact the Education Division Customer Service by phone on +358 9 310 44986 (Mon–Fri 10 am–12 noon and 1–3 pm), or Eduguidance, which offers daycare and education guidance for international families in English and Finnish on  +358 9 310 33444 (Mondays and Wednesdays, 2 pm–5 pm). You can also book a personal telephone appointment by emailing

What options for basic education are there for children who don’t know Finnish or Swedish?

Children with no or limited Finnish or Swedish skills are offered so-called preparatory education for basic education. The aim of preparatory education is to acquire basic Finnish or Swedish skills in order to continue studying in a regular Finnish or Swedish-speaking classroom. Preparatory education takes place either in a regular classroom together with Finnish or Swedish-speaking pupils (for grades 1 and 2) or in a separate group (for grades 3 to 9). In preparatory education, pupils focus on developing basic Finnish or Swedish skills, but they also study other subjects all along, learning the language through the subject content. They also study together with Finnish or Swedish-speaking classes in certain subjects as soon as their developing language skills allow it. For more information on preparatory education, see Preparatory education.

There are a few other options for studying in a language other than Finnish or Swedish. The City of Helsinki has some schools that offer basic education in English, and some private schools in Helsinki area do that as well. In addition to that, there are several schools offering bilingual education in different languages, but studying in bilingual classes requires at least basic knowledge of Finnish. For private schools, see the list of schools at the bottom of this page. For English-medium and bilingual classes offered by the City of Helsinki, see Basic education in English and Bilingual education.

I want my children to get their education in English. What are my options?

In the schools run by the City of Helsinki, your child can study entirely in English, attend a bilingual Finnish-English class, or attend so-called English-enriched basic education. The amount of English and the admission requirements vary between these three options. See the Options in English page for more information on each alternative.

There are some private schools offering English-medium basic education in Helsinki area, and the neighbouring cities Espoo and Vantaa have their own international schools. See the list of links at the end of this page for more information about the private options and options in other cities. Please note that private schools may charge fees.

Can I apply to English-language and bilingual classes during the school year?

Unfortunately, you cannot. According to the City of Helsinki policy based on the Finnish legislation, the admission has to be open for everybody and for all schools offering similar emphasis, and running a system like that in all of our schools simultaneously is not possible. We, therefore, have specific admission periods when everybody can apply. See Admissions to basic education in different languages for information on current and upcoming admission periods.

Do you take applications outside the admission periods?

We cannot accept applications outside the admission periods, unfortunately. The admission deadlines are strict, and no exceptions can be made. Our schools take care of the practicalities of the admission processes, and it is not possible for them to process applications outside the official admission periods.

How many free places are there in the English-taught and bilingual classes?

The number of places is limited. In the main admission for grades 1 and 7, new groups will be formed and all places will be filled. In the supplementary admission for other grades, only the remaining free places will be filled, if there are any left. Some schools may not have any free places at all. Information about the number of free places will be published before the application period begins.

Do schools have waiting lists?

No, the schools do not have waiting lists. If an accepted applicant does not take the offered place, the place will be offered to the applicant who is next in the order based on the aptitude test score, and again to the next one, if necessary. Once the places have been successfully filled with eligible applicants, the admission round closes and the test score waiting lists are no longer valid. The applicants who have not been offered a place are welcomed to apply again in the next admission round.

Why is there an aptitude test to English-medium and bilingual classes?

Studying in basic education in English requires native or near-native skills of English, as all teaching is in English. That is why the applicant’s English skills need to be tested. The test is designed so that it measures the applicant’s ability to succeed in an English-language classroom, and it has a minimum passing score, which the applicant must get in order to be accepted. The aim of the aptitude test is, among other things, to find out the applicants’ level of English grammar and vocabulary, and their ability to follow instructions in English.

For basic education entirely in English, Finnish skills are normally not required. However, when applying to 8th and 9th grade on the English-medium classes at Ressu Comprehensive School, some basic spoken Finnish skills are required (level A1 on the Common European Framework of Languages). This is because the Finnish national curriculum for basic education requires a certain amount of studies in the Finnish language, and it is not possible to complete those studies in one or two years with no prior knowledge of the language.

As for bilingual classes, an applicant should know either Finnish or the target language when applying to 1st grade. The idea of bilingual education is to offer the pupils the possibility to acquire another language without any prior knowledge, and that is why the aptitude test for 1st grade in bilingual classes only measures general linguistic skills and abilities. It can be taken in either language. Towards the upper grades, the applicants are expected to have an increasing fluency in both languages, and that is why knowledge of both languages is tested in the aptitude test from 2nd grade upwards.

What is the aptitude test for basic education in English like? Can I prepare my child to it somehow?

The aptitude test measures the applicant’s ability to succeed in an English-language classroom, and it has a minimum passing score that the applicant must attain in order to be accepted. The test is not only about English vocabulary and grammar, but also about the ability to follow instructions in English. When applying to 1st grade, the applicant does not have to know how to read and write. When applying to 2nd grade and upwards, the expectations for the applicant’s listening, reading and writing skills in English gradually increase.

When applying to 1st grade the aptitude test consists of a written part and a short interview. For 1st grade, the written part does not include actual reading or writing, but performing certain tasks on paper according to the teacher’s instructions. For other grades, the aptitude test consists of a written part only, but it does include some listening comprehension tasks.

There is no need to prepare the child to the aptitude test, except for encouraging them to do their best and follow the instructions of the teacher who runs the test.

My child is fluent in English but was not accepted into English-language education. Why is that? What can I do?

The aptitude test has a minimum passing score that the applicant must attain in order to be accepted. The test is not just about English vocabulary and grammar, but also about the ability to follow instructions in English. The test is designed so that it measures the applicant’s ability to succeed in an English-language classroom, which means that the applicant should have native or near-native English skills.

It is also possible that the applicant attains the minimum score, but is still not accepted. The number of places to English-language education is limited, and if there are more eligible applicants than free places, the applicants are accepted in an order based on their aptitude test score.

You have the right to see your child’s aptitude test after the results are published. To do this, contact the school to book a meeting in advance.

If you are not satisfied with the admission decision, you have the right to submit an appeal of rectification to the Regional State Administrative Agency. Instructions on how to do this are included in the official admission decision.

We are moving to Helsinki from another country. Can we apply from abroad?

Yes, you can. You can send your application from abroad, but please note that you have to be present in the aptitude test on the given date. It is not possible to attend the aptitude test online. Also, please note that you must have an address of residence in Helsinki when the principal makes the official admission decision (this will happen quite soon after the aptitude test). Residents of Helsinki are given priority in the admissions.

We live in Espoo. Can we apply to a school in Helsinki?

Yes, residents of other cities can apply to schools run by the City of Helsinki. However, Helsinki residents are given priority in the admissions, and residents of other cities can be accepted only if there are free places after Helsinki residents have been considered.

Are there other options for basic education in different languages than schools run by the City of Helsinki?

Yes, there are. In addition to municipal schools run by the City of Helsinki, there is a wide range of private and state-owned comprehensive schools that offer basic education in another language such as English, French, German and Russian. The neighbouring cities Espoo and Vantaa have some options, too. See the following links for more information, and contact the schools directly to learn more about their admissions. Please note that some private schools may charge school fees.


Deutsche Schule Helsinki

École française Jules Verne Helsinki

The English School of Helsinki

European School of Helsinki

Финско-русская школа (The Finnish-Russian School)

International School of Helsinki

Kielo International School

Lycée franco-finlandais d’Helsinki


Espoo International School


International School of Vantaa

02.09.2021 15:24