Shanghai maths teacher exchange

Posted on: 2nd Dec 2019

This week SRWA Assistant Head and Maths Mastery Specialist, Mrs Corrigan, returned from a trip to Shanghai, where she took part in a teacher exchange run by the Department of Education.

The Shanghai Maths Exchange programme, now in its 7th year, provides an opportunity for maths teachers in the UK to visit classrooms in Shanghai, where maths teaching is rumoured to be the best in the world. The teachers observe how they maths is taught there and what can be learned to bring back to the UK.

Mrs Corrigan spent two weeks in four different schools watching maths lessons across a variety of age groups. She noticed that most classes are mixed attainment and commented that the students were "absolutely lovely, welcoming and friendly" and spoke English to an impressive level. She also had a little taste of what it's like to be famous: "I had to sign about 30 autographs in one lesson!" 

"The students were really good at managing their own behaviour, so during break time they are allowed to let their hair down and run around as much as they like. Then when it comes to lesson time there are no behaviour issues." Lessons are only 40 minutes long so the teaching comes in quicker bursts with more regular breaks.

Teachers are very happy in their jobs and satisfaction is high because students their work life balance is very good.However, they only teach two lessons per day! The rest of the time is spent planning and catching up with students who are not keeping up with the pace to give them some focussed intervention.

Mrs Corrigan's said her biggest take away from the trip: "The amount of time given to lesson planning is amazing, every questions is carefully designed and thought out. lessons are critiqued by departments before being taught. This is something that we have been developing and will now improve it further. Also slowing down a bit in class and going over things more often in more ways to make sure that the students have really absorbed the information and are given enough time to understand.."

Whereas the three hours of homework expected each night in Shanghai may not be right for our students, Mrs Corrigan said: "We are already introducing some of the techniques I picked up, for example smaller homeworks to consolidate class work with in-lesson intervention the following lesson. So making sure everyone is caught up before you move on."

We very much look forward to welcoming two teachers from Shanghai who will be coming to spend two week at SRWA in March 2020. They'll be teaching two of our year 7 classes for two weeks. It will be very interesting to share with them how we do things here in the UK.



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