HEI Schools turning Finnish early childhood education into export-ready products

Finnish early education has an excellent reputation around the world, creating demand for our expertise. A challenge to use this potential fully has been the lack of ready-made “Finnish model” as a tangible experience – something that early education operators outside of Finland could take into use.

HEI Schools took the challenge and is now offering Finnish early education to the world through an easy-to-use licensing model. The mission of the company is to provide high-quality early education to as many children and families in the world as possible.

 “The root of the HEI Schools concept is to think big: we will consider our project a success once high-quality early education and the HEI Schools concept are accessible to as many families as possible in terms of both cost and physical distance. It is part of our Nordic heritage: leveraging volume to make a well-designed product available to as many people as possible,” says Milla Kokko, CEO of HEI Schools.

Research for commercial concepts

The University of Helsinki enables the commercial development of research into business concepts through Helsinki Innovation Services (HIS).

The pedagogical perspective of HEI Schools is based on decades of academic research on how children learn, and what is the best way to train teachers. This academic foundation, as well as ongoing new research work, are integral for the success of the HEI Schools concept, especially since the University of Helsinki is a founding partner of the company.

“Childhood is a period of life when everything is possible. It is a period full of learning opportunities; a period when all the core developmental changes take place. At HEI Schools, it is our mission and commitment to support every child to reach his or her full potential – without limits, without excuses,” says Lasse Lipponen, co-founder of HEI Schools and Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Helsinki.

Extensive product offering

HEI Schools started in 2016 by offering a full kindergarten package to global markets. The HEI Schools Learning Center includes everything from detailed Curriculum materials, extensive Teacher Training to Learning environment design and well-curated set of Learning Materials and a peer-to-peer Teacher Community. This autumn HEI Schools released two more products to scale the HEI concept to more markets: 

“We have received a lot of inquiries from already established early childhood education and childcare providers about possibilities to adapt the HEI Schools model to their schools. From that demand we designed a product that offers our cutting-edge curriculum and teacher training in an easy-to-implement package to enhance early childhood education into any school and under their own brand”, says Inkeri Mentzoni, HEI Schools Sales Director.

In addition to the new HEI Schools Curriculum product, HEI Schools is also extending product offering in to the weekend / afternoon clubs. HEI Schools Club is an activity club where children learn everything from science to art through playful activity-based sessions with Finnish pedagogical methods.

HEI Schools opens doors to new markets

After its initial pilot projects, HEI Schools is now seeking growth in new markets. The HEI Schools pilot kindergarten, which was opened in September 2017 in Baotou, China, recently celebrated its second anniversary with 35 teachers and 180 families. Since that, HEI Schools has opened Learning Centers in Guangzhou, China; Melbourne, Australia; Seoul, Korea and Helsinki, and new kindergartens will be opening in Lara, Australia; San Rafael, Argentina; Kuwait City, Kuwait, Jarkarta, Indonesia; Riyadh, Jedda, Dammam in Saudi Arabia, and Jätkäsaari, Helsinki.

 “We are currently negotiating with some 10 to 15 parties all over the world on opening new kindergartens. Now that we have tested our product in several markets, we are concentrating on growth,” says Milla Kokko.

“Every day we speak to who are excited about having access to the Finnish education model, and as we grow, so does the focus on early childhood education. When we receive a contact from a new country we can see that the hard work of our researchers and teachers have spread further than we can imagine.”

The desire to give children access to high-quality and rewarding education is everywhere: all parents want their children to be happy and successful.

“The research in early childhood education done in Finland supports both these outcomes. Finnish researchers don’t put in the hard work to keep this knowledge for Finland only, they do it because they believe that there is a better way to prepare young children for the world, and they are right.”