Shanghai Math Sweeps England

February 28, 2017


Over the course of the summer, England’s minister of education, member for Bognor Regis Nick Gibbs proclaimed "We are seeing a renaissance in maths teaching in this country, with good ideas from around the world helping to enliven our classrooms."


Gibbs was, for the most part, referring to his recent decision to fund the adoption of Chinese math teaching strategies throughout England ’s primary schools. Under Gibbs’ leadership, Her Majesty's government has allocated around 41 billion pounds to install Shanghai math training programs across the sceptered isle. 


Gibbs, who has been pushing the educational exchange idea for over a year, decided to seek guidance in China after a frank assessment of the UK’s recent raft of testing data. Th survey showed that Shanghai had the highest mathematical achievement levels in the world, while England had fallen to a disappointing 26th place in the international rankings. Still more surprising, the poorest 30% of Shanghai’s children were performed at the same level as the richest ten percent of English tykes. 


Gibbs was determined to close that gap and so, in the summer of 2014, he invited 68 secondary mathematics teachers from Shanghai to England to teach classes in English primary schools for three weeks. What is distinctive about the Shanghai teaching method is it emphasis on whole-class interactive teaching at a swift pace in which pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts with pictures. 


The experiment went so well that soon the minister staked his political credibility on the method’s future, moving forward with a bill that will cause Shanghai system to be implemented some in 4,000 primary schools (around half of the English total). 


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