Chinese maths teachers could be flown into Norfolk to spread Shanghai teaching methods

PUBLISHED: 09:02 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:02 12 March 2014

Elizabeth Truss and Rachel de Souza

Elizabeth Truss and Rachel de Souza


Norfolk could become home to one of 30 new maths hubs in England which will host teachers from China in a bid to spread teaching methods used in Shanghai classrooms.

Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss

Education minister and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss today announced the partnership between the government and the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission to coincide with World Maths Day.

It follows a week-long trip to China to learn from maths teaching method in the county, with a delegation that included Ms Truss and Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust of seven Norfolk academy schools.

Shanghai came top of the 2012 Pisa international league table of maths, while England was ranked 26th, although some have questioned the methodology used.

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said it was “ridiculous” to think teachers from China would have any more knowledge than English teachers.

Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss

Dame Rachel, whose Inspiration Trust includes the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form free school in Norwich, which specialises in maths and science, said the trust could bid to host one of the maths hubs after examining the details.

The English-speaking maths teachers from China will start work in the hubs this autumn, including methods to help struggling pupils one-on-one, daily maths lessons, homework and feedback, and master classes for local schools and subject-specific on-the-job teacher training.

Ms Truss said: “Good maths qualifications have the greatest earnings potential and provide the strongest protection against unemployment. In Norfolk there are already some superb job opportunities; BAE systems and Rolls Royce at RAF Marham, engineering at Hethel, bio sciences in Norwich – all of these require a sound knowledge and understanding of mathematics.

“High-quality maths teaching is an essential part of that and this collaborative, teacher-led programme is a fantastic opportunity for us.

“We have some brilliant maths teachers in this country but what I saw in Shanghai – and other Chinese cities – has only strengthened my belief we can learn from them.

“They have a can-do attitude to maths – and I want us to match that, and their performance.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “One of the key findings from Pisa 2012 was that the United Kingdom performs around the average in mathematics and reading, and above average in science. The UK’s performance is similar to that of Denmark, France, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that teachers brought in from China will have any more knowledge or expertise than teachers from other countries or indeed our own.”

Do we need to fly in maths teachers from China? Comment below or email

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