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As a pedagogic method, Buddyschool is based on the application of peer learning methods in teaching. In the Buddyschool approach, pupils of different ages and backgrounds come together in a low-threshold learning environment. The operating method is tailored to the needs of each school and is suitable for many different situations. Due to its flexibility, the approach is easy to test in different situations and adapt to the needs of different learners. The method is ideal for both upper stage and lower stage comprehensive schools as well as schools that have both upper and lower stage pupils. The teacher’s role is to observe from the background and give the pupils an active role in planning and implementation.

Benefits of the Buddyschool approach:

•Some pupils graduate from comprehensive school with weak skills and do not continue their studies in upper secondary education.
Pupils’ skills develop through peer learning, improving readiness for upper secondary education

•The school does not provide experiences of success, which can easily lead to pupils giving up
Every pupil can also teach, which strengthens their own learning and allows them to experience success

•Pupils do not have the resources at home to support school attendance
Peer teaching supports the school attendance of pupils who do not have the resources or skills at home to support their education at Finnish schools

•Pupils are too afraid to tell their parents or teachers that they are not learning (pressure to succeed)
Peer learning lowers the threshold for asking questions and requesting assistance from other pupils

Buddyschoolia toimii kahdella tavalla; opetuksen sisällä ja opetuksen ulkopuolella. Molempiin malleihin on mahdollista saada vertaisohjaaja koulutus oppilaille. Koulutuksen jälkeen heidän on helpompi ottaa vertaisen rooli. Koulutuksessa suunnitellaan myös toimintaa, miten kussakin koulussa Buddyschoolia lähdettäisiin toteuttamaan.

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Buddyschool in teaching

Implementing the Buddyschool approach in teaching does not require any additional resources or space from the school. The teacher plans the framework, the topic and the material for a class in accordance with learning objectives. Peer instructors familiarise themselves with the material and come up with ideas based on the class framework. The responsibility for conducting the teaching lies mainly with the pupils.

The role of peer instructor can be assumed by the entire class, a part of a class or an individual pupil. The subjects taught are included in the peer instructors’ own classes. Pupils who are at risk of failing a course can complete the course in question by teaching younger pupils.

Buddyschool outside of teaching

Implementing the Buddyschool approach outside of teaching requires an adult and a space at school. This space can be a classroom, the school gym or the school library, for example. The activities can be conducted during a free period, before classes or after classes. The activities are steered by a group of peer instructors consisting of pupils whom the school has deemed to benefit from the activities. The peer instructors can come from different classes and be of different ages. The size of the group can vary.

Teachers’ experiences

• Cooperation between teachers has increased at school, which has in turn improved well-being at work

• Makes teachers’ jobs easier

• Provides more resource, enabling concurrent teaching, for example

• Provides opportunities to develop one’s own work

• Pupils receive positive feedback, which manifests as improved learning outcomes

• Pupils reveal strengths that would remain undetected in regular classes

• Pupils become enthusiastic easily

• Peer instructors are motivated by work certificates, taking responsibility and meaningful activities

• Peer instructors operate independently

• Other pupils have also requested the chance to teach lower stage pupils

• Pupils have taken responsibility for arrangements

• Lower stage pupils have been provided the opportunity to receive education in different languages, where necessary

• A way of increasing reading among pupils who would not otherwise read

• Pupils get to utilise their own strengths and learn by teaching others

• Older pupils serve as positive role models for lower stage pupils