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Minister to uncover secrets to Shanghai maths success

18/02/2014 Joanna
Education minister Elizabeth Truss is to visit schools and teacher training centres in Shanghai on a fact-finding mission to discover how they have become the best in the world at maths.

Some of the methods used in Chinese schools could be adopted by those in Britain in an attempt to boost pupils' performance.

Recently, Shanghai's schools topped the international Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) league tables, while Britain's children were ranked 26th. 

Although Britain's performance was broadly average and similar to that in the Czech Republic, France and Norway, it lags behind many Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

An analysis has found children of people employed in manual occupations in China perform better than their British counterparts whose parents have highly-skilled jobs as doctors or lawyers. 

In the UK, the children of professionals scored an average of 526 points in maths, while the children of those engaged in "elementary" jobs in Shanghai scored an average of 569.

Ms Truss contrasted the "can do" attitude to maths in Asian cultures to the "long-term anti-maths culture" that exists in the UK.

"The reality is that unless we change our philosophy, and get better at maths, we will suffer economic decline. At the moment our performance in maths is weakening our skills base and threatening our productivity and growth," she added.

In January, Ms Truss gave a speech in which she blamed "limiting beliefs" for holding back attainment in the UK. She said perseverance should be encouraged and pledged to emulate countries such as Germany and China, which focus on core academic subjects.

Measures are being introduced by the government in an attempt to improve British pupils' performance in maths. Youngsters who do not achieve a grade C in the subject will be required to continue studying it and new core qualifications are to be introduced for teenagers who get a grade C but do not wish to study maths at A-level.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801694728-ADNFCR
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