Elizabeth Truss hopes visit to Shanghai will add up to better maths performance by English students
11:39 18 February 2014
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Norfolk MP and education minister Elizabeth Truss will lead a delegation of experts to Shanghai to learn how the city topped the 2012 international league tables for maths.
The group will also include Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Norfolk academy school group the Inspiration Trust.
Shanghai’s 15-year-olds topped the 2012 international Pisa tables for maths, while England was ranked in 26th place.
The group will visit three schools at primary and secondary level and teacher training institutes in Shanghai next week, allowing them to study successful methods and potentially adopt them in schools here.
Ms Truss said: “Shanghai is the top-performing part of the world for maths – their children are streets ahead. Shanghai and Singapore have teaching practices and a positive philosophy that make the difference. They have a belief that diligence redeems lack of ability.
Examples of questions children in Shanghai are asked
For five year-olds:
Xinhua library has received new books at these prices: Animal world 32RMB, storybook 65RMB, colouring book 18RMB, science book 29RMB. Xiao Pang and Xiao Ding bought their favourite books: Xiao Pang spent 32RMB and 29RMB, while Xiao Ding spent 65RMB and 18RMB.
- Which books have they bought?
- Calculate how much money they need to buy the books.
- Who spent the most? How much did s/he spend?
- Which two books would you buy?
- How much would that cost?
- Xiao Ding Ding buys 33RMB worth of sports clothes with 100RMB. He then spends 61RMB on trainers. The store gives him a free pair of socks worth 5RMB. How much does Xiao Ding Ding have left?
- 32 different football teams entered the 2006 World Cup. Every team had 23 football players. How many players in total were entered in the World Cup?
- Newbright clothing store launched a ‘Reduce energy’ activity. During one month they saved 37 watts. How many watts could they save in one year?
“Our new curriculum has borrowed from theirs because we know it works – early learning of key arithmetic, and a focus on times tables and long division, for instance.
“This visit represents a real opportunity for us to see at first hand the teaching methods that have enabled their young people to achieve so well in maths.
“They also have a can-do attitude to maths, which contrasts with the long-term anti-maths culture that exists here.
“The reality is that unless we change our philosophy, and get better at maths, we will suffer economic decline.
“At the moment our performance in maths is weakening our skills base and threatening our productivity and growth. I am determined to change this.”
An analysis by the OECD will show this week that the children of manual workers, including of cleaners, in Shanghai and Singapore do better in maths than the children of highly paid professionals in the UK.