A national network of maths hubs that will seek to match the standards achieved in top-performing east Asian countries – including Japan, Singapore and China – was launched today by Education Minister Elizabeth Truss.
She revealed the names of the 32 schools and academy trusts which will lead the hubs across England and provide a model for schools in their area. The scheme is backed by £11 million funding from the Department for Education and will be accessible to all schools.
These ‘pace-setters’ will implement the Asian-style mastery approach to maths which has achieved world-leading success – with children in these jurisdictions often around 2 years ahead of English children by age 15.
Hubs will develop this programme with academics from Shanghai Normal University and the UK’s National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths (NCETM). Later this year, 50 teachers from Shanghai will be embedded in the hubs to teach pupils and run masterclasses for other teachers. Lessons will be shared online.
The techniques and methods used will include:
specialist subject teaching at primary in maths and other subjects instead of a designated class teacher
effective use of textbooks and shared lesson plans so teachers are not reinventing the wheel
lesson plans available online so any teacher can use them and rate which are most useful
daily maths lessons, homework and catch up to ensure all children master core techniques
fluency and deep understanding of formal maths including columnar addition and subtraction, long multiplication and long division in line with the new national curriculum, as well as times tables and number bonds
teachers in the schools participating in research, frequent classroom observation and feedback
The Head of Education at the respected OECD, Andreas Schleicher, has described the programme as “potentially transformative”.
The hubs will also be supporting the Your Life campaign to increase the number of students studying maths and physics at A level. The campaign, led by businesses, aims to increase the number of students taking maths and physics A level by 50% over the next 3 years.
International test results show that England’s performance in maths has stagnated in recent years while other parts of the world have surged ahead. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) now ranks us 25th, with the table headed by a clutch of south-east Asian jurisdictions including Shanghai, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said:
There is no reason why children in England cannot achieve the same standards in maths as those in Japan, Singapore and China. We put in more resources in England than in these countries and we have the best generation of teachers ever. Yet our children are 2 to 3 years behind by the age of 15.
We must learn from the systematic practice of these high achieving countries, who are constantly seeking to improve. Maths hubs will bring this approach to all parts of the country and all schools will be able to benefit.
Our hubs will allow teachers to learn from each other, helping to give them the confidence and knowledge they need to teach maths even more effectively.
Maths is the most important subject for a child’s future – it commands the highest earnings, provides the best protection against unemployment and will get you everywhere, opening doors to dozens of careers.
One of the schools chosen to lead a maths hub is Fox Primary School in Ladbroke Grove, west London. Like the other lead schools, Fox was chosen for its high-quality maths teaching.
Teachers also focus on giving quick feedback to children. Some 98% of 11-year-olds at the school exceeded the expected level (achieving level 5 or above) in maths last year – more than twice the national average of 41%.
The school is also expert at supporting a number of struggling primary schools in the area; offering teacher training and helping them develop high-quality lesson plans.
In one school there has been a significant rise in the number of 11-year-olds achieving the expected level in maths. Between 2012 and 2013 the number of pupils in this school reaching the required standard rose from 70% to 96%.
Fox will now be given the resources to offer this kind of support to a much larger group of schools developing teachers’ subject knowledge and confidence.