Can Singapore maths really turn our children into mathematicians?

The Times is reporting on how the maths mastery approach based on Singapore and Shanghai teaching methods is being used in a primary school in Hackney.  

The report explains that under the system – developed by the Ark academy chain and now running in more than 200 primary schools and 67 secondaries – fewer subject areas are studied, but in greater depth, and the whole class studies the same subject at the same time, with the abler pupils exploring in greater detail, before everyone together moves on to the next subject. It also suggests there is an emphasis on problem solving and thorough understanding and less focus on memorising methods and procedures. 

The executive head of the school – Grazebrook Primary – explains they tried a variety of teaching schemes before adopting maths mastery and that, despite some initial issues, the approach appears to be working well a greater conceptual understanding, for example, amongst brighter children.

Reporting comments from Dr Helen Drury, the director of maths mastery and author of the book ‘Mastering Mathematics’, the article suggests the biggest challenge may be to convince parents that maths really matters as Drury says that a cultural shift is required to make maths a subject at which adults believe it is essential for their children to be successful. Dr Drury is quoted:

“We are in a negative cycle where parents, to reassure children, were saying: ‘I was rubbish at maths, it didn’t make any difference, don’t worry about it, relax, it didn’t do me any harm.’ If we can get children to be successful at their mathematics you take away the need for that kind of discourse and over time — this is a long game — they become parents who had positive experiences of mathematics at school and the whole thing becomes a positive cycle rather than negative one. But that isn’t going to happen overnight.”

More at: Can Singapore maths really turn our children into mathematicians? (subscription may be required)


How interesting that the issue highlighted as potentially most important is getting parents to recognise maths really matters.

Perhaps is the desire to learn is there, the approach taken to teach it is actually far less important?

Is your/your school using the maths mastery system and, if so, how do you find it?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove-A key issue is the attitude of parents ( & the media) in perpetuating the myths re maths. NB Singapore parents attitudes

  2. Mastery method improves results just a tiny amount.  More important is parents’ and society’s attitude to maths.   But headline diminishes this by promoting ‘Singapore and Shanghai’ methods.

  3. CyborgStu

    SchoolsImprove – Another key issue is the lack of subject knowledge plus teaching which lacks in the theoretical pedagogy of maths.

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I completely agree with this article; mastery in maths works & the only thing holding many back is attitude towards numbers

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