Maths Hub – England/China Project

This is one of the first pieces of work embarked upon up by the Maths Hubs, and coordinated centrally by the NCETM. It is built around an exchange of teachers, between hub schools and schools in Shanghai. In September 2014, 71 primary teachers travelled to Shanghai, with a similar number from Shanghai primary schools returning to England, in two waves: November 2014, and February/March 2015. A similar pattern of exchanges, involving secondary school teachers will take place in 2015/2016.

The aim, as far as the English schools are concerned, is to learn lessons from how maths is taught in Shanghai, with particular focus on the mastery approach, and then research and develop ways in which similar teaching approaches can be used in English classrooms.

When in English schools, the Shanghai teachers—all mathematics education graduates—will teach lessons on their own, and with their host teacher, following exactly the approach they use in their own classrooms. The long term aim of the project is for the participating English schools first to develop a secure mastery approach to maths teaching themselves, and then to spread it around partner schools.

The project is led by the NCETM, which will enable lessons learnt in individual hub areas to be shared nationally, so increasing the chances of the mastery approach, over time, spreading to large numbers of schools across the country.

Testimonials and Reports

NCETM Mid placement Shanghai report

Download it here.


Shanghai teachers in London Mid-Placement Report from a Primary Headteacher:

Dear Steve McCormack (Communications Director National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.)

The exchange has been a fantastic experience for us.

Kris (Mr Li Dong) and Chen (Mr Bean!) are just lovely and have easily settled into our school. They are both incredibly conscientious and work well together, spending hours planning their lessons. Yet they have quite different teaching styles and it has been interesting to see the difference.

At our school they are based in Year 2 (Katrina’s class) and Year 5. We changed our focus so that these classes are just being taught number during this period, trying to build on the strengths of the Shanghai teachers. It has been fascinating to see how they deepen the children’s knowledge and how they use the step by step approach. The pupils have become much quicker in their use of number facts. The use of questioning by the Shanghai teachers is great. At first the children found it difficult to articulate their mathematical reasoning but this has clearly improved during the exchange.

We have tried to involve local schools in the project and the feedback has been very positive. On Wednesdays after school we have a Maths Hub Club which is attended by Level 6 pupils from seven local primaries (a similar model to the compulsory extra maths after school classes in Shanghai). The children have really enjoyed the sessions and have been enthusiastic about coming.
On Thursdays, Maths Leaders from local schools come and observe two lessons followed by teaching research group activities. There have been approximately fifteen adults watching every lesson which was a shock to the children at first but they’ve quickly got used to it and are usually so engaged in the lesson that they forget that we’re all there. We have all enjoyed the discussions with the Shanghai teachers and gaining an understanding of the thought process behind their planning. It has been useful for the other schools to be involved over time as they have seen clear progress by the children. Then, on Thursday afternoons some of the visiting teachers stay and they are working with Katrina, Kris and Chen on developing some number guidance, using the Shanghai textbooks and linking to our national curriculum. Feedback about this has also been positive and the resources have then been shared by the Maths Leaders back at their own schools.

Kris and Chen have also lead an inset for staff and a presentation to our parents so they understand more about what we’ve all been doing together.
Thank you for this great opportunity

Kind regards,

Marina Coleman, Headteacher St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School, Westminster
and Katrina D., Maths Coordinator St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School, Westminster
(St. Marylebone Maths Hub)


Overview: Shanghai Teachers Arrive to Teach Maths in English Primary Schools

Twenty-nine teachers from Shanghai have arrived in the UK to spend three weeks teaching maths lessons in primary schools across England. It is the return leg of an exchange which began when a party of teachers from English schools spent a fortnight observing maths lessons in Shanghai in September.

The exchange is one of the first projects undertaken as part of the new Maths Hubs programme in England, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and coordinated by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).

The programme has seen the launch of 32 hubs, spread across England, each led by a school or college with a record of high achievement in maths teaching and local system leadership.

Primary schools in 15 of the Maths Hubs areas are hosting Shanghai teachers this month. The remaining 17 hubs will host teachers in February/March next year. Each of the Shanghai teachers will work closely with the English primary school teacher they hosted during the first leg of the exchange in September.

They will give maths lessons to classes in the English schools using exactly the teaching approach followed across primary schools in Shanghai. This has contributed to Shanghai school pupils performing in international tests at levels that currently lead the world. The Shanghai approach, which exemplifies what’s known as mastery teaching, entails, among other things, keeping the whole class together on the same material, effective use of high quality textbooks, and communicating the expectation that all pupils will achieve to a high standard.

Charlie Stripp, Director of the NCETM said:

‘I am hugely impressed by the way maths is taught in Shanghai primary schools and I’m certain that primary school teachers, and pupils, in England can benefit from having teachers from Shanghai teach in their classrooms.

‘The mastery approach employed by Shanghai teachers fits well with the structure of our new maths National Curriculum. There are already examples of the mastery approach to maths teaching being successfully implemented in some English schools, but I firmly believe it can, and should, be embedded deeply and widely throughout our schools.

‘The underlying principle of the mastery approach is that, through carefully designed teaching, combined with fostering a positive attitude to maths and a belief that they can succeed if they work hard, far more children can be successful in maths. I have seen at first hand in Shanghai classrooms how effective this approach can be and I believe the Shanghai teacher exchange will be a powerful catalyst to change the way we teach maths and raise pupils’ achievement in maths throughout England.’

The aim of the initial phase of the exchange is that, in each of the English exchange schools, teachers will develop a deep understanding of mastery teaching, start implementing it themselves, and pass it on to colleagues in their schools. Thereafter, the aim is to spread the approach around more schools in each of the Maths Hub areas, and ultimately widely across the whole country.