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UK to introduce math textbook from Shanghai


04-10-2017 09:29 BJT

(Source: CGTN)

Two global publishing powers have joined forces in an agreement that could ultimately change the way kids in the UK learn math.

British students may soon be studying the subject using Chinese textbooks following the signing of an agreement between the UK’s Harper Collins publishers and Shanghai’s Century Publishing.

It’s hoped switching to the Shanghai Math system of teaching will help push UK schools higher up the world rankings run by the UN’s Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In this London Primary School, they’re already giving it a go.

First it was the teaching, with Maths teachers like Chu Wenli here brought over from China to introduce the Shanghai system.

Her British counterparts watching what would be a revolution in teaching practices in UK schools.

The system appears to impress.

"Really, because they are structured in a really good way, just like your lesson are, where the learning and teaching progression are very clear," said Sukwinder Samra, North East London Maths Hub.

The UK government has launched a $50 million dollar investment in Chinese maths across Britain.

That’s been followed now by International publishers Harper Collins producing a number of textbooks using the Shanghai Maths System to sell into UK schools.

"They are high quality textbook resources, with very slow gradual steps of progression, so it allows the entire class to move together to gain an understanding together and then when they’ve understood Maths well, they have a good grasp of numbers to make rapid accelerated progress," said Lee Newman, Primary Publishing Director Collins Learning.

"Once the underlying concepts are learned, there is a lot of application to real world problems. So, they do move on to using those skills in context."

Interest in the Shanghai system was triggered in the UK by a global study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In maths, Chinese schools from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as Jiangsu Province ranked fifth. The UK lagged behind at 27th.

So, what is Shanghai Maths. It is a rigorous system in which Children are taught together under strict group discipline. Every child must understand a lesson before the class moves on. A deep understanding of the fundamentals of maths is the goal. Meanwhile, the best and the brightest help those who struggle.

Critics say it’s not just textbooks that make a difference. A child’s school day in China is long compared to the UK, with far more homework and weekend tutorials.

And the teachers are specialists, studying primary maths at University for five years and then teaching only maths. British Primary schoolteachers in contrast teach all subjects all the time. It could mean more changes than just textbooks.

"Some of the schools who’ve already joined the teaching for mastery programme have made amendments to their school timetable in terms of the length of a maths lesson and the frequency of maths lessons," Newman said.

"I think if the groundwork is laid it obviously becomes easier to work through and learn those concepts. I think it’s getting them off to a good start.But I think it’s going to be down to individual schools to look at what teaching for mastery looks like in its best form and then to take on the aspects that will work in their school. "

The Chinese textbooks will help deliver the UK education department’s ambitions for half of all primary schools in England – more than 8,000 in total – to adopt the Asian mastery approach to maths.

What one schools minister described as the most valuable education initiative in years could in fact be child’s play.

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