Education minister Liz Truss has called for schools in the UK to adopt Chinese teaching methods in an attempt to raise standards in schools that have "stagnated".
The minister is currently on a visit to schools in Shanghai to find out the secrets of their success. Recently, the city's schools were identified as the world's most successful in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment's rankings.
Students in Shanghai outperformed their UK counterparts in reading, maths and science tests. UK schools ranked 26th in the world, the Telegraph reports.
In China, maths is taught in both small and large classes and core arithmetic is introduced at a much earlier age than it is in the UK. Ms Truss says teachers in Shanghai tend to "follow up" with their pupils to ensure they understand the subject.
Harvard's influential Brookings Institute recently cast doubt on the OECD results. It claims the results of its study are flawed because children of migrants in Shanghai are forced to attend school in their home provinces.
Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, the education minister rejected this explanation, saying she has witnessed how Chinese pupils understand complicated concepts better than their English counterparts.
She said Britain should learn from the positive attitude China has towards maths, rather than pretending there are alternative reasons behind their success.
Schools in Germany and Poland have incorporated teaching practices from the Far East into their curriculums, she said, while British schools have failed to improve.
"They have been taking those lessons back, they have been improving their teaching standards and their curriculum - we need to do that too, we can't spend our time trying to explain away differences instead we should be looking at what these countries are doing successfully and apply it to our own country," she commented.
Ms Truss said it is important that these teaching methods are introduced to England to ensure performance in this country continues to improve.
Posted by Harriet McGowan