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Primary schools in England to teach maths Asian style

Staff Writer |
Up to 8,000 primary schools in England are to be given more than $54 million to enable young students to master maths using Chinese and Asian teaching methods, the Department for Education announced.

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The Asian "mastery" approach to teaching maths will become a standard fixture in England's primary schools, thanks to a major expansion announced by Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

With the help of the funding, more than 8,000 primary schools -- half of the total number in England - will receive support to adopt the approach, which is used by some of the leading performers in maths in the world, including Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for education department said: "Recent international tests show that in these locations, the percentage of 15-year-olds who are 'functionally innumerate' - unable to perform basic calculations -- was more than 10 percentage points lower than in England."

The maths mastery approach is already being used in a number of England's schools following a pioneering teacher exchange program between England and Shanghai, the spokesperson said.

"The funding will ensure it is used far more widely, with an initial 700 teachers to be trained to support schools in maths mastery, and funding available for textbooks."

Maths mastery involves children being taught as a whole class, building a depth of understanding of the structure of maths, supported by the use of high-quality textbooks, and began being used in England in 2014.

Gibb, who visited Shanghai in March to see maths teaching in practice, announced the expansion Tuesday in a speech at the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) conference.

He said: "We are seeing a renaissance in maths teaching in this country, with good ideas from around the world helping to enliven our classrooms."

"I am confident that the steps we are taking now will ensure young people are properly prepared for further study and the 21st century workplace, and that the too-often heard phrase 'can't do maths' is consigned to the past."

Gibb will also discuss the initial findings of an evaluation of the Shanghai exchange scheme by Sheffield Hallam University, also published Tuesday. The evaluation, based on data collected between February and July last year (2015), found early indications that the exchange had the potential to foster a radical shift in mathematics teaching in participating primary schools.

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