The rewarded School as a Service operating model is first being tested by Haukilahti Upper Secondary School, whose students started studies in decentralised facilities on the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi.


School as a Service concept is the best Finnish school innovation

The School as a Service operating model, developed by the City of Espoo and Aalto University, was awarded in the Finnish Quality Innovation Competition. The concept won the series of School innovations.

According to the award statement, “The School as a Service pilot project is a concrete example of thinking in a different way and boldly trying a new approach. The project tackles many challenges relating to the physical organisation of teaching, pedagogical operating model and user-oriented development in a fresh manner. It has multidimensional effects. The results can be seen from the viewpoints of social, ecological and economic sustainability alike.”

The award-winning innovation “did very well in the assessment against the competition criteria, received an excellent expert statement and, in the opinion of the judges, represented the shiniest cutting edge of Finnish innovations, even among the competition finalists.”

Learning environment challenged by changing learning

The School as a Service operating model is first being tested by Haukilahti Upper Secondary School, whose students started studies in decentralised facilities on the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi at the beginning of the autumn term and are utilising resources shared with the university.

“The School as a Service demonstration project challenges the concept of a conventional learning environment and points the way for new kinds of learning conditions, pedagogy and school operating culture. The operating model has already received plenty of positive feedback and aroused international interest,” says Sampo Suihko, Director of Espoo Education and Cultural Services.  

“Aalto University is turning its campus into a learning community in which the university both opens up and creates value together with the various parties involved in the learning. The School as a Service project makes use of these learning communities and physical facilities alike. This promotes sustainable development by improving the utilisation rates and supports social density by increasing interaction,” says one of the original developers of the School as a Service concept, Professor Jarmo Suominen from Aalto University.

New school service architecture

Learning is the key in the School as a Service demonstration project. The school is seen as not only a building but also a versatile service that supports learning. The model supports new ways of learning, increases the joy of learning, strengthens communality and opens the school doors to doing things together and networking. It also makes for more efficient use of space when the facilities are flexible and the rest of the environment is utilised in teaching.

Flexible teaching solutions are now achieved by means of service innovations instead of product innovations alone. Improving the use of facilities through the logic of services results in both new kinds of business potential and new efficiency in terms of space and costs thanks to increased utilisation rates.  Even at this stage, it can also be seen that the new operating model is cost-efficient. Initial cost calculations show that the service-centric model is about one-third more affordable per pupil than the investment-based model.  

The development is continued in close co-operation with partners. The goal is to produce mutually developed models that promote sustainable development.

Making use of the results of the project

The demonstration project also intends to test flexible and cost-efficient solutions that can be used in organising education services as well as other services provided by the city and Education and Cultural Services in future. 

Espoo’s School as a Service model will also be applied in a similar upper secondary school project to be started in 2017 at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. These two projects will be developed in the spirit of mutual learning. Another goal is to study the scalability and export potential of the concept.

A second demonstration project will be carried out in Espoo in 2018, making use of the outcome of the School as a Service project. The second project is also being planned in co-operation with Aalto University and Aalto University Properties, utilising the teaching space and other resources in Otaniemi.

For more information, please contact

Sampo Suihko, Head of Espoo Education and Cultural Services, tel. +358 50 551 8119
Kristiina Erkkilä, Director of Development at Espoo Education and Cultural Services, tel. +358 40 705 3952