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Shanghai maths exchange shows power of international partnership

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As the world’s education leaders gather in London, a Shanghai – England teacher exchange shows the power of international collaboration.

An exchange scheme that gives teachers in England the opportunity to share experiences with counterparts from Shanghai has positively influenced the teaching of maths in our schools, a report has concluded.

A long-term study on the Shanghai – England Maths Teacher Exchange, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University, has concluded the project – the first of its kind – has had a positive influence on the way maths is taught in the schools that took part.

The findings have been published in the same week as the world’s education leaders gather in London for Education World Forum, and as the latest delegation of teachers from Shanghai visit schools across England to showcase their mastery teaching approach.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

Standards are rising in our schools, with 84% of pupils now attending good or outstanding schools compared to 66% in 2010. We have looked towards the best education systems in the world to help drive this improvement and our work with China has been a key part of this.

As this report shows, the Shanghai – England Maths Teacher Exchange has been a positive influence on our schools, with the lessons learned from it having demonstrable effects in classrooms. There has, for example, been a marked increase in the number of primary schools using whole class teaching rather than seeing pupils split by attainment.

As we go forward, we will continue to work with our peers in Shanghai to share the practices that our high performing education systems are based upon.

The report is based on a longitudinal study carried out between 2015 and 2017 that aimed to assess benefits for schools and pupils.

It found:

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  • Teachers valued the exchange as a positive professional development experience;
  • Outcomes for teachers included enhanced subject and teaching knowledge and increased confidence;
  • Participants also reported that they could apply experience gained from the exchange to other aspects of the curriculum;
  • The study also looked at the effect an early version of the programme had on attainment and showed positive effects at Key Stage 1 for those schools that adopted the programme in full.

All findings around attainment should be viewed on the basis that the programme has evolved since the evaluation period.

The Shanghai – England Maths Teacher Exchange was launched in 2014. Since its inception over 700 teachers from England and Shanghai have participated in the exchange.

85 teachers from Shanghai are currently in England taking part in the return leg of the most recent phase of the exchange.

Afshah Deen, who is a year 2 teacher at Parkland Primary School in Wigston, Leicestershire, and took part in the exchange, said:

“Seeing maths teaching in Shanghai and observing how lessons are planned and then discussed and refined by teachers there has been the most interesting and rewarding professional experience of my career.

“I’ve literally questioned everything I’ve done for the last eight years of teaching. It’s really inspired me to be a better maths teacher.”

The maths exchange programme also supports our work to take the total number of English schools benefitting from the East-Asian style maths Teaching for Mastery programme to 11,000 by 2023.

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