£41m boost for Asian-style primary maths teaching

Half of primary schools to adopt approach used in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong

Thousands of primary schools in England will copy the south Asian style of teaching maths, the Department for Education has said.

A £41m boost will help more than 8,000 schools – half of the total number in England – receive support to adopt the approach, which is used by leading maths performers including Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong.

International tests show that in these places the percentage of 15-year-olds who are unable to perform basic calculations – was more than 10 percentage points lower than in England.

The south Asian maths mastery approach is already used in a number of England’s schools following a teacher exchange programme between England and Shanghai.

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

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

Schools minister Nick Gibb, who visited Shanghai in March to see maths teaching in practice, will announce the expansion in a speech at the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) conference today.

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

“The significant expansion of the south Asian maths mastery approach can only add to the positive momentum, with thousands more young people having access to specialist teachers and quality textbooks.

“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.”

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