Address: Kuninkaanhaanaukio 14, 28130 Pori

Country: Finland

 School website

Project: Dealing with controversion through education in comprehensive school for 12 –16 years old pupils: How to enhance dialogue with people whose values are different from one’s own and to respect them

Working language during the project:

  • Finnish

Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:

  • Making children’s and students’ voices heard
  • Addressing controversial issues
  • Preventing violence and bullying
  • Tackling discrimination
  • Improving well-being at school

Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:

  • Conflict-resolution skills
    In the project, we teach other teachers different kind of practices to use with pupils whenever they have different opinions which could lead to arguing and fighting, aiming to teach them to solve disagreements peacefully and to respect others.
  • Valuing cultural diversity
    In the project, we try to increase openness and create a safe space for pupils to discuss their opinions, feelings and thoughts.
  • Skills of listening and observing
    In the project, we use exercises where pupils train themselves to listen and understand what the other(s) think and feel and why they think and feel as they do.

Target group age range:

  • 11 - 15 and
  • 15 - 19

Level of education:

  • Upper secondary education

Short description of the project:

We work on dealing with controversial issues in schools here in Pori and a nearby area. Two of our teachers have attended a Nordplus training course “Dealing with controversy though education: a regional approach” in Utoya and Vilnius in 2018 and 2019. In parallel, they have trained our teachers to use constructive tools and approaches with pupils, aiming to engage in dialogue with people whose values are different from their own and to respect them. One of our goals is also to create safe, inclusive and democratic spaces for all.

Our teachers have now used these tools with pupils occasionally, but we are hoping to develop a more regular practice of pupil co-operation, conflict-resolution and communication skills, to develop empathy and openness to cultural otherness. Every class in our school (which is a comprehensive school for 12 – 16-year-old children and teens, with 400 intake) has already carried out several practices from the Council of Europe Teaching Controversial Issues –training pack and has learned some basics about open and respectful dialogue and respecting differences. The school also has a well-functioning student board and a peer support system, the members of which have had additional training in dealing with controversial issues.

Our Nordplus-trained teachers train other educators in a nearby area. They also belong to a nationwide group of trainers who act in co-operation with our national agency of education (Finland).


Change the atmosphere of the school(s) by widening the perspectives of the teachers, providing them with alternative techniques to deal with controversial issues so they can provide the learning space and tools for the pupils to realise that all of them are a significant part of the school community. Developing skills such as empathy, self-efficacy, flexibility, respect and communication skills will enable us to get closer to our aim.

Expected results/outcomes

Increased awareness of both teachers and pupils about their role in the school community. Readiness to handle controversial issues and their own feelings about these issues.


More tolerant and empathetic school(s) environment, in which pupils know how to deal with controversial issues using constructive skills.

Challenges you faced

Finding time for ongoing and structured practice with the students.

Time-frame of the project:

Continuous, for now.

Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:

  • Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture
  • Teaching controversial issues-training pack