Maths teachers in England must learn from China to end "15 year stagnation" says Government minister

Liz Truss has claimed that teachers in England who have adopted Chinese methods are seeing their pupils improve

England must look to China to improve how maths is taught in its schools and end “15 years of stagnation”, a Government education minister has said.

Liz Truss has visited Shanghai to observe teaching methods there, after a study by international think-tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found the children were three years ahead of their UK counterparts.

She added that teachers from England who have already implemented the methods they learnt in China have seen their pupils improve.

Researchers from the OECD considered the maths results and backgrounds of over half a million 15-year-olds who took part in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) study.

They found that in the UK, the children of parents with a “professional” job - such as doctor or lawyer - scored 525.94 points on average in the Pisa maths test, while those with parents in “elementary” occupations - such as cleaners and catering assistants - achieved 460.61 on average.

But children from “elementary” backgrounds in Shanghai scored an average 568.9 points and 533.58 in Singapore.

Deputy director for education and skills at the OECD Andreas Schleicher, said the “simple message” of the findings was: “If school systems want all of their students to succeed in school, they should give the children of factory workers and cleaners the same education opportunities as the children of doctors and lawyers enjoy.”

Read more: Education minister Elizabeth Truss to travel to Shanghai to find out secrets behind maths success
Gender gap in UK schools means girls' lack of confidence in maths and science puts them off applying for engineering jobs ender gap in UK schools means girls are put off by engineering jobs 

However, an American academic and education expert, Tom Loveless said that Shanghai schools were not comparable to those in English and US schools because large numbers of children are excluded from high school education in the Chinese city.

He said that the children of migrant works, who make up almost half of Shanghai’s population and fill many of the “elementary” occupations, were effectively excluded from the city’s high schools by a system which forced many of them to return to their home villages to be educated.

Speaking from Shanghai, Ms Truss told the BBC's Today programme: “The children that are at the schools in Shanghai are doing three years better than children at schools in England.

"That's the reality of the situation. I've seen it for myself."

She added that England should learn and apply “good practice”.

“We have stagnated in terms of our maths performance for the last 15 years, while other countries like Germany and Poland have been learning from the East,” she said.

Ms Truss added: “We've had 50 maths teachers out in Shanghai implementing those techniques in English schools and we've already seen improvements in teaching grades as a result of it.

Asked about Mr Loveless's criticisms of the OECD study, Ms Truss said: ”It seems that the Shanghai teaching methodology uses resources much more effectively and also focuses on the core arithmetic that children need to have from an early age. So we see very high levels of verbalisation of maths, very high levels of specialist maths teaching in primary school as well as secondary school.

"It is really a matter for the OECD exactly which people have been in comparator tests, but the OECD has verified that Shanghai is three years ahead of the UK and Singapore is two years ahead."

She added that encouragement and a positive attitude towards maths, was a contributing factor to China’s success. 

”Any problems are being followed up and they have an approach where they have both larger and smaller class sizes, so there are small groups to make sure all children have mastered the concepts but also large groups to make sure that good teaching resources are being used effectively.“

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Arts and Entertainment
Master of ceremony: Jeremy Paxman
tvReview: Victory for Jeremy Paxman in this absorbing, revealing tale
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Secretary

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This major European Intellectual Propert...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - 9-12 Months

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Accounts Assistant is immedi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Communications Executive

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness