Maths teachers from Shanghai are to be flown over to the UK to help raise teaching standards in British schools.
Up to 60 teachers will be brought to England in an exchange arranged by the Department for Education. They are to be sent to 30 schools designated as centres of excellence for mathematics, where they will share their knowledge of best practice with UK educators.
Teachers at these 'maths hubs' will then pass on their knowledge to other institutions in their local areas.
The initiative forms part of the government's drive to raise maths standards following the UK's performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment's rankings.
Research published today (March 12th) reveals poor numeracy standards are costing the British economy £20 billion every year - 1.3 per cent of the country's GDP. The charity National Numeracy has launched a challenge to allow people to check their maths proficiency and improve their skills.
Half the working-age population of the UK has the maths ability of those at primary school, the charity reports, while over three quarters are below the GCSE level required by employers as necessary for work.
Many people believe that poor numeracy skills have held them back in life.
Education minister Elizabeth Truss, who recently visited Shanghai, commented: "We have some brilliant maths teachers in this country but what I saw in Shanghai - and other Chinese cities - has only strengthened my belief that we can learn from them."
According to Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, similar maths content is taught differently in the UK and China. Whereas in the UK the focus is on word problems, in Shanghai the emphasis is on deep conceptual understanding, the Times Education Supplement reports.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) was sceptical of the benefits of the government's initiative, however.
"It is ridiculous to suggest that teachers brought in from China will have any more knowledge or expertise than teachers from other countries or indeed our own," said NUT general secretary Christine Blower.
Posted by Harriet McGowan