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Oxford study says Chinese methods win

By BO LEUNG | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-11-03 17:29

Way in which math is taught in Asia is better than traditional UK classes

New British research confirms for the first time that children taught math through Chinese-style teaching methods are far ahead of their peers.

The independent study by the University of Oxford says students taught the traditional Asian "mastery" methods do "significantly better".

The research looked specifically at the Inspire Maths program, which is widely used in Singapore and through which Shanghai pupils have been shown to excel.

Interest in the method was prompted by the success of Shanghai and Singapore in international rankings in 2012. The rankings compare math proficiency in different geographic areas. Shanghai came top, Singapore was second. The UK came in at 26.

The teaching style calls for classes to be taught as a whole and for children's confidence to gradually be built up. The method introduces core concepts that are broken down into small steps, starting with the use of everyday objects and drawings to help them understand principles.

The UK has recently begun to shift toward teaching math in a way that is more like the Chinese way.

In July, the UK government announced it would spend 41 million pounds during the next four years on supporting 8,000 primary schools in adopting "mastery" techniques.

Minister of State for Schools Nick Gibb said at the time that a China and Shanghai teachers exchange program would continue during the following two years, to strengthen the teaching of math in primary schools.

James Hall, lead author of the Oxford University study, said: "Overall, we found positive evidence that Inspire Maths benefited children's maths achievement and supported teachers' professional development."

The study published on Wednesday involved 550 children aged 5 and 6 who were learning math at 12 schools in 2015 and 2016. They were split into two groups. The first took regular lessons for the first term and then used Inspire Maths textbooks. The second group, using the books both terms, made much more progress.

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