Maths teaching Asian style in the UK?


Are maths teachers up for it?

Primary schools are in the frontline as far as adopting the Asian maths teaching style is concerned. The Department for Education has given £41 million to assist in implementing this style of maths.

What happens to the remaining number of primary schools?

In practice this means that over 8000 schools will get help to adopt this radical approach to maths – radical in a sense that it’s not how we currently teach Maths in England, not in modus operandi.

Is this the solution UK maths improvement?

It’s part of a reaction to the fact that the UK lags behind countries such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. There have been exchanges and visits to see just what makes these Asian countries so successful compared to England. In fact functional innumeracy is 10% lower among the 15 year old cohort compared to England.

This is not a complete shift in policy because some schools have already adopted the whole class approach. However, there is now funding to train 700 teachers in support of the initiative which started two years ago.   Some teachers have an element of scepticism regarding the prescriptive approach but supporters point to the ability to build depth of understanding regarding the whole structure of maths.

Is this the renaissance of maths teaching we need?

This week, on the 12th July schools minister Nick Gibb will speak to the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education conference where this year’s theme is 'influences and impact: policies for high-quality education'. During that conference, delegates will be encouraged to discuss what collaborative action might be required to embed recent reforms. This is vital to ensure young people gain the mathematical knowledge and skills needed to move into higher education and employment.

Gibb sounded very upbeat when he said: “We are seeing a renaissance in maths teaching in this country, with good ideas from around the world helping to enliven our classrooms.”

He sees the significant take up of the south Asian maths mastery approach will be a positive momentum. It will mean more young people having access to specialist teachers and quality textbooks.

Gibb went on to say that he was confident young people would be properly prepared for further study and the 21st-century workplace. He wants to see the ‘can’t do maths’ mantra is consigned to the past.”

However, conversation on the Twitter feed seemed less than enthusiastic:

What are your thoughts about this new style of primary Maths teaching? Is it something that excites or frustrates? 

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