UK exam board to advise high-performing Chinese schools on maths and science

England’s biggest exam board has signed a deal with a major Chinese education group, which will see it help schools in Beijing and Shanghai to assess maths and science.

The AQA board is set to share best practice in assessing maths and science, in a way that “encourages teaching of critical thinking, problem solving and creativity”.

The board’s chief executive, Andrew Hall, said in a statement that the UK was “often encouraged to look to China for education inspiration”, adding that he was “pleased that our Chinese colleagues clearly feel there’s a lot of valuable expertise here in the UK too”.

Shanghai regularly tops the PISA international league tables for educational performance.

Earlier this month, schools minister Nick Gibb encouraged teachers in the UK to “learn from Chinese methods”, in the wake of the BBC series Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School.

During the TV show, 50 Year 9 pupils at Bohunt School in Hampshire – TES Overall School of the Year 2014 – were taught for four weeks as though they were at school in China, with 12-hour days and rote-based learning. Tests at the end of the experiment revealed that those taught under the Chinese model outperformed their peers in maths and science.

“The evidence which shows the effectiveness of Chinese teaching methods is unequivocal,” Mr Gibb told the researchEd conference in London this month. “In mathematics, the children of the poorest 30 per cent of Shanghai’s population are outstripping the children of our wealthiest 10 per cent in England.”

Under the AQA programme, UK teacher trainers will run a training programme in 50 schools in Beijing and Shanghai, and Chinese teachers will “visit the UK to see assessment in action”, according to the exam board.

Professor Yang Nianlu, secretary general of the Chinese Society of Education, said: “In the area of secondary education, both China and the UK have their own unique strengths in terms of educational concepts, methods, curriculum design and style of teaching. Yet we have much to learn from each other.

“Our work with AQA will help develop expertise in China’s high school assessment system through sharing UK best practice across the sector and introducing different teaching concepts, policies and methods into China.”

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