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New wave of Shanghai teachers arrive in England to boost primary maths

A second wave of primary maths teachers from Shanghai is due to arrive in England this week to share their "world-class" approach to maths teaching, the government announced today.

The teachers will spend three weeks in selected primary schools across the country in a bid to improve standards of teaching and close the gap in international league tables between England and Shanghai, the top performer in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings.

The visiting teachers are part of an ongoing exchange programme between England and Shanghai, which has already organised for 29 Chinese maths teachers to spend time working in primaries in the UK.

A further phase of the exchange is set to take place in the autumn and spring terms of the 2015-16 academic year focusing on secondary maths teaching.

Techniques used in Shanghai include spending longer on topics to ensure depth of understanding and using classroom time for plenty of practice. There are also structural differences between the two systems, such as primary maths teachers being specialists.

Nick Gibb, school reform minister, said: “The Shanghai approach – with children taught as a whole class, building depth of understanding of the structure of mathematics, supported by the use of high-quality textbooks – is proving a hit in those schools in the country where it’s been tried.”

Charlie Stripp, director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), said it had been "immensely encouraging" to see pupils adapt to being taught by teachers from China.

“Even more encouraging, though, are the early signs we are seeing that this exposure to Shanghai teaching methods is helping primary school children develop a deeper understanding of the structure of maths and how numbers fit together," he said.

Luke McNamara, primary lead for Outwood Grange Academy in Wakefield, took part in the first phase of the exchange in November, when he said that one idea taken up from the Shanghai teachers was to introduce "same-day intervention" so that children who had not understood a concept during a lesson got extra help later that day.

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Shanghai-style maths comes to central London  27 Nov 2014

Shanghai-style maths hubs revealed by government  1 July 2014

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