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location_on Sipoo, Finland

A model to provide education that molds to the student

NEST is a model that helps you provide instruction that keeps every student on top of their studies. It considers students' different circumstances and needs.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100






November 22nd, 2022
Students shouldn't have to change in order to fit in at school. Instruction and support should adapt to fit them.

About the innovation

Mistä on kyse?

Marginalization and school drop-outs pose a serious challenge to youth and their effects can ripple throughout their lives as they grow up. This is why schools should have the tools to ensure that no child is left behind and prevent youth exclusion.

Young people at risk of exclusion need personalized learning methods and schools don't always meet this need. We need new ways to make schools meaningful and appealing.

The NEST model allows young people to study at their own pace which in turn helps them find study motivation. The model is built on the idea that schools should mold to the students' needs, not the other way around.

NEST stands for: needs, education, strength, taking care.

The students who are chosen for NEST form a group of 10–12. They are led by a teacher and a instructor experienced in youth growth and development. The model was developed at Sipoonlahti comprehensive school where the group's instructor is a trained psychiatric nurse.

The model supports especially those students who have multiple absences due to an illness, traveling or another reason that makes learning more difficult. Often this may be anxiety that is manifested as difficulties concentrating on studying in a large class.

Students can attend NEST either part-time or full-time. The teacher instructs the full-time students in all humanities and natural sciences collaborating with the subject teachers. They aim to form larger modules out of subjects so the learning content is enjoyable for the students. The students should preferably study art and physical education and optional subjects together in a large group.

NEST has also been open to all students who have wanted to learn calmly in a quiet, small group.

Students are able to apply to NEST and request the type of support they require in their studies. The school asks the students what they need to feel better at school, reach better learning results and, above all, to participate in school. They interview each student and contact their parents.

After launching NEST in the fall of 2016, every student at Sipoonlahti has re-committed to school and school drop-outs have practically disappeared.

The NEST principles:

  • Dismantling roadblocks to learning. Multiprofessional collaboration is becoming a part of everyday school activities, as well.
  • Learning at one's own pace. The learning contents are packaged as modules that the students can work on at their own pace in different environments. If the students are unable to study at school, they can do the exercises at home or hospital schools, for example.
  • Documenting the studies fastidiously. You should record the student's progress somewhere you can all track with ease, because the actual studying is independent.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


The NEST classroom and lessons combine multiprofessional collaboration with flexible and personalized studying.


The model has practically eliminated school drop-outs.


Systems that are able to define learning objectives according to the individual can adopt the model.

Implementation steps

Appointing a teacher-instructor working pair
The NEST model should have a working pair of a teacher and an instructor. It is imperative that the working pair works well together because their energy is reflected on the students. The pair should divide the responsibilities so both can utilize their professional expertise.

Responsibilities between the teacher and the instructor at Sipoonlahti

The teacher at NEST is a mother tongue teacher and the educational instructor is a psychiatric nurse.

The educational instructor is responsible for guiding and supporting the students in everyday school activities and having conversations with them. An important part of the instructor's work is to help the students find their study motivation. The instructor works with various people such as the parents, student welfare, psychologist and potentially the municipal department of social services.

The educational instructor is in constant contact with the students. They have daily education discussions with the students, also by text message and phone. These discussions concern their behavior, their personal needs and simply noticing them fully. The conversations may be, for example, about the student's eating habits, personal hygiene and other health topics.

The educational instructor encourages the student in their studies and to finish assignments and acts as the teacher's right hand, however, they are not an assistant. The instructor helps with all practical matters.

The teacher keeps the guardians up to date on the student's progress. They ensure that students can study in versatile methods corresponding with their skill level. The teacher transforms the subject studied into modules that focus on the core knowledge.

The teacher also designs the learning assignments during periods of work experience and assesses the students with the educational instructor and subject teachers.

Presenting the students with the principles of NEST
At the start of the school year, the school presents all students with the principles of NEST. Students can apply to NEST or their teacher or guardian can recommend them for the program. Some students are recommended by student welfare.

Presenting the principles at Sipoonlahti

The school held an assembly to present junior high school students with the principles. The presentation included a slideshow and the teacher explained new studying opportunities. The school also emailed all the guardians informing them about the program.

Interviewing the students, mapping the need for support and the selection process
When a student expresses interest in NEST, they are interviewed, their needs for support are mapped out, after which the NEST students are selected.


The teacher interviews all students who are interested in participating in NEST. They ask about the students' strengths and with what they could use support.

Contacting the guardians:

The teacher should contact the guardians and inform them about their discussion with the student.

Mapping out the type of support needed:

Student welfare is involved right from the beginning to map out the students' need for support. The interviews with the students and discussions with the parents help student welfare decide if the student would benefit from full-time or part-time participation in NEST.

Selection process:

The school selects students who would benefit the most from NEST. The students should be self-sufficient and proactive so that they can study at their own pace. Students and guardians are notified about the selections.

Creating structure: planning the day, curricula
After the NEST selections, the group finalizes the students' curricula. The goal is to hold most classes as NEST lessons. This allows the students to be together with the rest of the NEST group.

The structure at Sipoonlahti

All full-time NEST students know only when school starts and ends. They study independently and can flexibly work on a module in project form. On any given day, one student can spend five hours on math and another one can work on a Europe module, and a third one study English.

Optional subjects and art and physical education are always separate lessons in the middle of the curriculum.

Recording the progress
Every student should have a folder on them, either a traditional or electric one. It documents their progress. Project-based modules are the basis for the studies and when the students finish a module the teacher goes through their work with the student.

E-folder at Sipoonlahti

The school tracks every student's progress in an electronic journal. The students can study at their own pace. They can often choose what they will study. The teacher's job is to ensure that all students reach their goals.

Creating a model of continual assessment
Continual assessment is an important aspect of the NEST model. Assessment methods should be varied and not purely test-based. The student's research and study skills are the most important thing.

Assessment must be flexible and malleable because the students study at their own pace.

Continual assessment at Sipoonlahti comprehensive school

Assessment should verbalize the learning process and be continual in addition to providing grades, as you can see from these examples from Sipoonlahti school:

  • “You have read the book on war and answered the questions well: Very Good-”

  • “Your fantasy text was somewhat unfinished but really great regardless! Great job! Your grammar skills are first-rate!! You get an excellent grade!”

  • “You have shown your verbal skills as a sales person at a smoothie bar.”

  • “You have argued your opinion well and in a clear manner at an art exhibition.”

  • “Your essay on Croatia during the war was excellent.”

  • “Your Finnish on all your answers is fluent and rich.”

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