Exchanges swap math teaching styles

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Monday marked the start of the fifth round of math teacher exchanges between the United Kingdom and China, as 86 math teachers from primary schools in the UK arrived at Shanghai Normal University for a two-week program.

After a day of training, the teachers will visit 62 primary schools in the city for immersive teaching and learning activities.

Launched in 2014, the exchange involves teachers from the UK visiting China, and teachers from China visiting the UK for two to three weeks, enabling them to learn from each other's education systems.

A delegation of 86 Shanghai math teachers will visit 43 primary schools in the UK in January.

The UK-China Math Teachers' Exchange and Cooperation Program has deepened the sharing of math teaching between two countries, Paul Kett, director general for education standards at the UK's Department for Education, said at the launch of the program on Monday.

More than 500 teachers from the two countries have been involved in the exchange program over the past four years, and another 12,000 teachers in the UK have learned from demonstrations by the Shanghai teachers, Kett said.

According to Du Kewei, director general of the Ministry of Education's China Center for International People-to-People Exchange, the program includes research on math education theory, immersive teaching communication, field trips and experience sharing.

Chinese students have demonstrated their excellence in math in the Program for International Student Assessment, an international study assessing 15-year-olds on key knowledge and skills, mainly in reading, math and science.

Students from Shanghai placed first in the PISA in 2012. British participants were 25 places behind. The assessment has been conducted every three years since 2000.

In 2014, the UK's education department said it would spend $53 million on a four-year program to spread the Shanghai math teaching model nationwide in the next four years to improve students' proficiency.

A two-year extension of the program was announced earlier this year during British Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to China.

By 2023, around 11,000 students will have learned through the East-Asian style of math teaching in British schools thanks to the exchange program.

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