UK & World News

  • 1 July 2014, 7:36

Asian-Style 'Maths Hubs' Launched Across England

A national network of Maths Hubs that seek to match the standards achieved in top-performing East Asian countries have been set up in England.

Teachers from 32 schools chosen by the Department for Education (DoE) will adopt the methods of maths teachers in countries including China, Japan and Singapore.

Teachers will be flown out to China to learn from some of the best maths teachers in the country in order to improve standards.

The UK's performance in maths has stagnated in recent years while other parts of the world, particularly East Asia, have surged ahead.

The recent international league table for performance in mathsput the UK in 26th position.

The table is headed by a clutch of Southeast Asian jurisdictions including China, Singapore, Korea and Japan.

Those children are often around two years ahead of their British counterparts by the time they reach 15.

European countries like Poland, Belgium and Germany are far ahead of the UK.

The scheme is backed by 11m in funding from the DoE and will be accessible to all schools.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: "There is no reason why children in England cannot achieve the same standards in maths as those in Japan, Singapore and China.

"We put in more resources in England than in these countries and we have the best generation of teachers ever. Yet our children are two to three years behind by the age of 15.

"We must learn from the systematic practice of these high-achieving countries, who are constantly seeking to improve.

"Maths hubs will bring this approach to all parts of the country and all schools will be able to benefit.

However, some criticise Asian teaching methods for failing to encourage creative thinking and relying on hours of repetitive drilling.

Professor Julian Elliot, from Durham University, said a culture difference could stop the methods from working in England.

"It's excellent that the Government are trying to help our youngsters become better at mathematics," he said.

"But it is a mistake to think that we can copy what happens in the Southeast Asian countries.

"You can't just pick up their approaches and drop them into UK systems and assume they're going to work exactly the same.

"The whole culture in these countries is to work all hours and a lot of the education takes place outside of school hours in various cram schools.

"I doubt that parents will want to put children through that here."

Some of the new methods expected to be adopted by the maths hubs and spread throughout the school network include:

:: Specialist subject teaching at primary in maths and other subjects instead of a designated class teacher.

:: Effective use of textbooks and shared lesson plans so teachers are not reinventing the wheel.

:: Daily maths lessons, homework and catch up to ensure all children master core techniques.

:: Fluency and deep understanding of formal maths, including columnar addition and subtraction, long multiplication and long division in line with the new national curriculum, as well as times tables and number bonds.

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