British Schools Praised For Chinese-Style Teaching In Pisa Results

The UK has made substantial progress in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) league table for Maths, ranking 18th place up from 27th three years ago.

The PISA tests, created by the Organisation for the Economic Co-operation Development, are designed to examine the ability of 15-year-olds every three years in reading, Maths and Science. Although a voluntary assessment, an increasing number of countries take part to compare their pupils to international standards.

The PISA tests were taken by 79 countries last year, administered by the OCED. As part of their significant improvement, the UK scored an average of 502 points, up from 492 in 2015. The latest report demonstrates China’s continuation of outstanding results across all subjects.

Chinese Teaching Methods Drive UK’s Test Results

Many schools in the UK have adopted the world-renowned Chinese teaching methods. In 2016, the British government announced an expenditure of £41m over four years to support half of England’s primary schools in adopting maths teaching from Asia.

Schools in the UK have adopted the Chinese-teaching style known as the ‘maths mastery approach’, which experts have said is likely to have driven up the UK’s test results.

The method utilises concrete objects to help a child’s understanding of the complex concepts behind the subject. Students are taught as a whole class to develop their understanding, supported by the use of high-quality textbooks. During the process the concrete objects gradually transition into visual diagrams. The transition into secondary school allows students to understand the abstract concepts.

Ben Durbin, head of international at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), which administered the PISA tests in the UK, found it “encouraging” to see that the boost in score for maths was driven by improvements among boys and lower achieving students.

Chinese Maths Textbooks Translated for UK schools

The UK have previously shown commitment to adopting Chinese methods of teaching maths. In 2017, Harper Collin’s signed an agreement with a Shanghai publisher to release a series of 36 maths books at the London Book Fair.

The translation of books available for UK schools is part of a wider co-operation between the UK and China. Textbooks from China assisted the Department of Education’s ambitions for 8,000 primary schools in England to adopt the mastery approach to Maths. In an attempt to improve the UK’s standard’s, the Department for Education have flown in teachers from China to deliver training programmes for teachers in the UK.

Sister School Partnerships Lead Improvements of International Maths Ranking

True Education Partnerships (TEP) have supported the developments of the educational links between UK and China since 2011. The Sister School Partnerships programme allows teachers to share pedagogies with Chinese teachers through bilateral student exchange visits, leadership delegations and hosting experiences.

Consequently, the educational trips have helped UK schools to improve their curriculum by adopting Chinese teaching methods. In October 2019, The Mosslands School were one of eight student exchange trips to their sister school in China.

Before The Mosslands’ visit, Miss Beddall, who accompanied the students on the school’s visit to China, said: “I’m going to go there as an observer, it’ll be fascinating to see how they educate their children. It will be wonderful to observe the Taicang schools to see if they have any techniques that could help us over here.”

Hundreds of students each year embark on immersive educational visits to their sister schools in regions across China. The life-changing opportunity has allowed students to experience a Chinese Maths classroom and improve their own personal development.