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Chinese teaching to buoy half of England's primaries

By Wang Mingjie in London | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-13 07:22

British education officials expect the benefits of the Shanghai Mastery Model for Teaching and Learning math to reach about half the primary schools in England as a result of an exchange program now well underway.

In the third round of a program that started over two years ago, some 30 math teachers from Shanghai ended their two-week stint in the United Kingdom, in which they shared their Chinese-style teaching method in 35 primary schools.

In July, the UK government rolled out the Chinese mastery approach to math instruction in more than 8,000 institutions, using funding of up to 41 million pounds ($51.6 million) over four years to improve British students' performance.

Clare Fowler, director of math education policy for England at the UK Department for Education, said teaching methods for math in UK schools have changed a great deal.

Chinese teaching to buoy half of England's primaries

The exchange program between China and the UK started in September 2014, when 71 British math teachers went to Shanghai to spend time with their exchange partners at high-performing schools and colleges.

Between November 2014 and March 2015, over 120 mathematics teachers from China taught at more than 200 schools in the UK and almost 1,000 British teachers listened to the classes taught by their Shanghai counterparts, according to the Chinese Embassy education section.

"We are developing a deep understanding of the teaching of mathematics in China and what makes it so effective," said Debbie Morgan, director for primary schools at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.

"This deep understanding is important if we are going to adopt the strategies in an attempt to improve mathematics teaching in England," she said.

In November, an independent study by the University of Oxford said students taught using the traditional Asian "mastery" methods do "significantly better". It was the first study of its kind confirming that children perform at levels far ahead of their peers after learning math through Chinese-style teaching methods.

The effect may take some time to appear on a broader scale, though.

Recent reports have shown few overall signs of improvement, demonstrating the need to introduce the Chinese system at an early age.

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