Shanghai visit for minister to learn maths lessons

The BBC is reporting that Education Minister Elizabeth Truss is to lead a fact-finding mission to Shanghai to see how children there have become the best in the world at maths…

Ms Truss and a delegation of experts will visit schools and teacher-training centres in the Chinese city next week.

They will study the successful methods with a view to possibly adopting them in schools in England.

Last year the UK’s maths and science education was placed 50th out of 148 countries by the World Economic Forum.

Shanghai’s 15-year-olds topped the 2012 international Pisa tables for maths, while England was ranked in 26th place.

The top five places were all taken by south-east Asian jurisdictions – with 15-year-olds in Shanghai judged to be three years ahead of their UK peers in maths.

The government acknowledges that England’s performance in maths has stagnated while other European countries, such as Germany and Poland, have improved.

It also points to research, about to be published by the OECD, that suggests the children of manual workers in Shanghai and Singapore do better in maths than the children of highly paid professionals in the UK.

The delegation will include the leader of the Inspiration Trust of academies, a primary school head, and the director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.

Ms Truss said children in Shanghai were “streets ahead” of their UK counterparts and believes it is “teaching practices and a positive philosophy that make the difference”.

“They also have a can-do attitude to maths, which contrasts with the long-term anti-maths culture that exists here”, she said…

More at: Shanghai visit for minister to learn maths lessons

Do you welcome this kind of fact-finding initiative from Liz Truss or have reservations about it? Either way, please let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. TWDLearning

    moorino I worked in S.Korean schools, and I can tell you the kids hate school. They are very hardworking but don’t enjoy it

  2. TWDLearning

    moorino they are motivated by beatings and the shame on the family of not being successful. Not because they have a lust for learning.

  3. TWDLearning

    moorino we are lucky to have kids smiling and enjoying school. Should not be looking at Asian education for anything!

  4. lesleymuriss

    SchoolsImprove parental support and the ability to work hard and no feeling of automatic entitlement makes a difference.

  5. Janet2

    Where did the Worlds Economic Forum stat come from?  I can’t find it.  The nearest I found was the World Economic Forum’s Financial Development Report 2012 which gave the results of the “Executive Opinion Survey”.  One of the questions asked executives for their opinion about the quality of maths and science education in their country.

    The UK came 24th out of 62 with a score slightly above the mean.

    But leave aside executive’s opinions which may or may not be accurate.  There’s no mention in the bumf above about the Trends in Maths and Science Survey  which still ranks English primary pupils among the top ten performers for Maths.

    But such good news won’t go down too well with Truss.

  6. TW

    Of course, she could just read the OECD report, starting with this –

    “In 1994, Shanghai was the first jurisdiction in China to introduce neighbourhood attendance at primary and junior secondary levels, requiring students to attend their local schools and in effect eliminating the notion of key schools at these levels. This was a challenge to society and caused some uneasiness among parents, who were bewildered that their children could no longer compete for admission to the better schools.  The social pressure was so great that eventually a compromise was reached: students could choose schools in other neighbourhoods by paying a sponsorship fee. This is often known as the Chinese version of “school choice,” which was a hot issue in America.  Parents see the additional fees as fair, because otherwise preferential admissions could go to parents with political power or personal connections.

    Neighbourhood attendance also caused concern among teachers who were not used to teaching classes of mixed abilities. Now, however, teachers seem to be proud of being able to handle children of diverse backgrounds and different abilities, realising that diversity and disparity within schools are common features in contemporary societies. Neighbourhood attendance has allowed public examinations to be removed at the end of primary schooling, releasing primary teaching from examination pressure. As an immediate result, innovations and creativity now flourish in primary schools. Policy makers often see this as an essential factor in making Shanghai a champion of curriculum and pedagogy reforms.”

    But that would be to miss out on a free trip at public expense.

  7. lesleymuriss

    DCC_ianthomas SchoolsImprove not wrong but already research done. Couldn’t she just read that? Prevents jet lag too

  8. DCC_ianthomas

    lesleymuriss SchoolsImprove yes but merit in seeing it in action to be fair. Some schools I visit are so good I can’t convey to others!

  9. covrules

    Siobhan_Heffron SchoolsImprove erm cultural expectations, parental expectations, society’s positive views on education to name but a few

  10. covrules

    Siobhan_Heffron SchoolsImprove no: let’s blame teachers & schools. Also never mind fact that Shanghai doesn’t have league tables etc!!!

  11. JeniHooper

    SchoolsImprove if Liz Truss wants to emulate Shanghai’s success she should study the parents and the evening classes. No half measures

  12. stwynn

    SchoolsImprove article states teaching is better (maybe it is) but also that attitudes are better – home life (support/expectation) 1/2

  13. stwynn

    SchoolsImprove 2/2 culturally education, education, education. Counts for a lot. Enthusiastic, hardworking children are far easier to help.

  14. stwynn

    “lesleymuriss: SchoolsImprove parental support &the ability to work hard &no feeling of automatic entitlement makes difference.”absolutely

  15. JeniHooper

    jacquiburkefp Parental aspirations based on hope. When I taught in East London we said anything is possible if you work hard.

  16. jacquiburkefp

    JeniHooper Agree. But hard for parents to give that message to their kids if that doesn’t echo their own life experiences.

  17. JeniHooper

    jacquiburkefp politics which blames deadens hope and aspirations. I grew up with the optimism of in post war politics #betterworld

  18. jacquiburkefp

    JeniHooper Me too. And had a dad from an immigrant family who worked hard & created a better life for themselves. Lucky weren’t we.

  19. JeniHooper

    jacquiburkefp very fortunate but a lesson I’ve never forgotten and I want all children to feel that support and optimism. You too I guess

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