“IKEA OF SCHOOLS”
If Sweden held the reputation of educational excellence like Finland, the “Ikea” of schools would already exist. We decided to do it before they will. HEI Schools is a design focused, product and service concept that is based on the excellence of Finnish early childhood education.
From the beginning, HEI Schools focus has been incorporating beautiful design with pedagogical excellence. This commitment is evident from the initial product, branding and educational philosophy all the way through to the learning spaces, fixtures and toys.
HEI Schools is a design focused, product and service concept that is based on the Finnish national curriculum for early childhood education. The model is offered as a well designed licensing model for local entrepreneurs.
Our mission is to provide high quality, early childhood education for as many children in the world as possible. Not for the few, but for many.
HEI SCHOOLS PRODUCT
Five building blocks: A thoughtfully designed licensing model for local entrepreneurs
The HEI Curriculum is based on the Finnish national early childhood education model and is followed by all HEI Schools around the world. The curriculum content and inspirational packages (that consist of written guidelines and suggestions, images, video material etc.) have been designed together with pedagogical experts and design team. The curriculum materials are delivered to local HEI Schools operators globally four times a year, in 3-month curriculum packages. The curriculum content is always evolving as new advances in education are explored.
HEI TEACHER TRAINING
The HEI Schools teacher training concept is an integral part of the product and service design. It has been created to support the development of local teachers as early childhood education professionals through three different phases:
Introduction: A shared training period in Finland for HEI Schools operators and teachers (2-3 weeks)
Mentor teaching: HEI Schools mentor teachers assist the local team to kick start operations on site (2-3 months)
Online/video training: Continuous support and inspirational materials through online channels
HEI LEARNING SPACE
The HEI Schools Learning spaces are designed in conjunction with Finnish architects, furniture designers and pedagogical experts to enhance and support the curriculum goals. The space needs to be multifunctional to first enhance educational needs of the learning environment while emphasising our commitment to high quality design rooted in Nordic heritage.
The learning material choices are thoughtfully designed and selected to support the goals of the curriculum. The HEI Collection consists of carefully curated toys, games, books, musical instruments, sports and science equipment, and other learning materials. All of the collection pieces have been selected together with the HEI Schools pedagogical experts and designers. Some of the HEI Collection products are designed and manufactured by HEI Schools, some are HEI branded goods and the rest are high quality, carefully curated products that work seamlessly with the HEI concept while upholding our commitment to the educational curriculum. In the future, the HEI Collection can be ordered through an online store.
HEI Operations, e.g. HEI School´s package for kindergarten operators, provides support for daily operations and pedagogical leadership and also in recruiting teachers to developmental discussions, building the daily preschool program to web page design, and brand identity to delivering family education. HEI Operations also includes a quality aasurance tools for documentation of daily operations and child development evaluations.
HEI Schools is a scalable, full package preschool model concept where high quality design and a Finnish national curriculum based pedagogical approach combine to emphasise the excellence of Finnish education and Nordic design. HEI Schools experience has been designed together with architects, furniture and graphic designers, researchers, carpenters, photographers, directors and other creative professionals in conjunction with Finnish pedagogues to showcase the curriculum throughout design. In addition, local professionals from each HEI Schools operating market have been encouraged to engage in the creation process.
FIRST HEI SCHOOLS IN CHINA
The first HEI Schools was opened in Baotou, China in September 2017. This preschool has adopted the full HEI model from curriculum to space design and learning materials to brand guidelines. A team of both Chinese and Finnish teachers use English as their working language, while interaction with the children happens in English, Chinese and additionally through other creative methods, e.g. through HEI pictograms.
HEI Schools Baotou
Preschool concept and license: Helsinki International Schools Group - HEI
Preschool operator: A company owned by the city of Baotou
Families: Middle class, local families who pay tuition fee to the local operator
Children: Local children, ages 3-6 years old
Teachers: 10 Chinese and 5 Finnish early childhood educators
Language: English and Chinese
Building: 4500m2 existing school building that was fully renovated according to the HEI Schools space guidelines in the summer of 2017. Also includes a yard.
Architectural planning: Mer Arkkitehdit and Collaboratorio
Furniture design: Milla Vaahtera and Collaboratorio
Further information on case Baotou: heischools.com/news
HEI Schools has designed a line of furniture to work holistically with the curriculum while upholding a standard to high quality design. Native Finnish plywood has been selected for building the furniture and has been sealed with a natural, non toxic wax to make the pieces safe for both the children and our environment. The production of the furniture pieces is executed specifically for the HEI Schools location by local craftsmen according to HEI Schools precise plans and drawings.
A closet and storage system that perfectly fits the HEI Trolley at 80 cm deep and extends from wall to wall creating even more storage options. The base of the HEI Divider can be used as a storage area for the HEI Trolley to reduce visual noise in the preschool room. When the trolley is in use, the base area can be used for playing.
A push trolley with wheels that children can move around on their own. The trolleys can be used for many purposes, e.g. for carrying books, games, musical instruments and arts&crafts.
A stackable box that fits into the HEI Trolley and the HEI Table.
A low play table with movable tabletop. The tabletop is removable making it possible to stand inside the table or e.g. put a lego box inside the table. The tabletop can also be painted with chalk paint, and used as a chalkboard.
A wall made of plywood with gaps that have been designed for hanging hooks, shelves, boxes and other items. The tabletop that has been made for the HEI Table and HEI Trolley and can also be used as a shelf. This makes the HEI Wall customizable in many different ways according to your needs.
A cozy lounge area, a den for resting, reading, for playing house and store, or for more imaginative play, it can turn into a fort or a puppet theater. The bottom of the HEI Cube can be used for storing e.g. mattresses, boxes, books or toys.