Elizabeth Truss hopes visit to Shanghai will add up to better maths performance by English students

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

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.

Dame Rachel de Souza Photo: Bill Smith

Dame Rachel de Souza Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

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.


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'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.

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'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.

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