East Asian teaching methods are helping to raise English pupils' attainment in maths, according to a new study.
It reveals that introducing a Singaporean 'Maths Mastery' (MM) approach has led to a "small but welcome" improvement in youngsters' maths skills and offers a potential return on investment after just one year.
The study, led by University College London (UCL) Institute of Education and the University of Cambridge, is the first hard evidence that East Asian teaching methods can have an impact on children's performance.
Researchers studied more than 10,000 pupils in Year 1 (5-6 years) and Year 7 (11-12 years) in 90 primary schools and 50 secondary schools.
They found that, after one year of MM teaching, youngsters in participating schools saw a small improvement over their peers in other institutions - the equivalent of one additional month's progress over the course of the year.
The study's authors were also able to estimate the economic benefits of the teaching method by analysing the effect of a small improvement in maths skills at the age of ten on lifetime earnings.
Data from the British Cohort Study, which follows the lives of more than 17,000 people born in a single week of 1970, was used to estimate the salary boost at ages 26, 30, 34 and 38. The improvement in skills was found to raise earnings by £100 to £200 per year.
A cost-benefit analysis was then conducted by the researchers, who concluded that the relatively low cost of the programme is likely to mean a high return on investment when future earnings are taken into account.
MM involves pupils studying fewer topics in greater detail, with every youngster required to master the material before the class moves on to the next part of the syllabus.
The study's lead author, Dr John Jerrim of the UCL Institute of Education, said: "Maths Mastery shouldn't be seen as a 'silver bullet'; there is no escaping that the effect of the programme was relatively small, though welcome. Yet, given the low cost per pupil, it may nevertheless be a programme worth pursuing."
Further research is needed, the researchers states, as MM is designed to have a cumulative effect, with the full benefits evident after five years.
Posted by Tim Colman