Shanghai teachers arrive to teach maths in English primary schools

Twenty-nine teachers from Shanghai have arrived in the UK to spend three weeks teaching maths lessons in primary schools across England. It is the return leg of an exchange which began when a party of teachers from English schools spent a fortnight observing maths lessons in Shanghai in September.

England-China Chinese teacherThe exchange is one of the first projects undertaken as part of the new Maths Hubs programme in England, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and coordinated by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).

The programme has seen the launch of 32 hubs, spread across England, each led by a school or college with a record of high achievement in maths teaching and local system leadership. Primary schools in 15 of the Maths Hubs areas are hosting Shanghai teachers this month. The remaining 17 hubs will host teachers in February/March next year.

Each of the Shanghai teachers will work closely with the English primary school teacher they hosted during the first leg of the exchange in September.

They will give maths lessons to classes in the English schools using exactly the teaching approach followed across primary schools in Shanghai. This has contributed to Shanghai school pupils performing in international tests at levels that currently lead the world.

The Shanghai approach, which exemplifies what’s known as mastery teaching, entails, among other things, keeping the whole class together on the same material, effective use of high quality textbooks, and communicating the expectation that all pupils will achieve to a high standard.

Charlie Stripp, Director of the NCETM said:

‘I am hugely impressed by the way maths is taught in Shanghai primary schools and I’m certain that primary school teachers, and pupils, in England can benefit from having teachers from Shanghai teach in their classrooms.

'The mastery approach employed by Shanghai teachers, fits well with the structure of our new maths National Curriculum. There are already examples of the mastery approach to maths teaching being successfully implemented in some English schools, but I firmly believe it can, and should, be embedded deeply and widely throughout our schools.

'The underlying principle of the mastery approach is that, through carefully designed teaching, combined with fostering a positive attitude to maths and a belief that they can succeed if they work hard, far more children can be successful in maths. I have seen at first hand in Shanghai classrooms how effective this approach can be and I believe the Shanghai teacher exchange will be a powerful catalyst to change the way we teach maths and raise pupils’ achievement in maths throughout England.’

The aim of the initial phase of the exchange is that, in each of the English exchange schools, teachers will develop a deep understanding of mastery teaching, start implementing it themselves, and pass it on to colleagues in their schools. Thereafter, the aim is to spread the approach around more schools in each of the Maths Hub areas, and ultimately widely across the whole country.