DfE Shanghai maths initiative - no impact on KS2 results

(30 Posts)
noblegiraffe Fri 25-Jan-19 16:32:46

All the banging on about Shanghai maths and it turns out that importing it into the English system makes bog-all difference to results.


“But critics pointed out that there may be other factors involved, such as specialist primary maths teachers in Shanghai only teaching two lessons a day, unlike generalist primary teachers in England.”

You think? hmm

OP’s posts: |
RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 25-Jan-19 19:07:43

No shit.

Also, different societal/parental expectations of maths and education in general can probably be added to the list of reasons why importing it makes no difference.

Final Report fr anybody who wants to wade through it.

SwimmingJustKeepSwimming Fri 25-Jan-19 19:14:28

2 lessons a day!??!!?

Willow1992 Fri 25-Jan-19 19:24:55

2 lessons a day

Well, I'm off to research relocating to Shanghai, bye. grin

InspectorAlleyn Fri 25-Jan-19 19:30:56

Interesting. I took part in the exchange (not the first year, but the second) and we have fully embedded many of the teaching for mastery approaches in our primary school. We’ve found there’s been a big impact on both attainment and also attitudes to mathematics in our school. Far more children at ARE than in previous years and over double the amount of children achieving GDS.

I’d suggest that the biggest change in attainment will be evident when children who have been taught “for mastery” throughout their school career sit the end-of-KS tests, not those who only experienced it in UKS2.

wentmadinthecountry Fri 25-Jan-19 19:48:41

I observed a Shanghai lesson yesterday (Y3). Lots of the mastery stuff we already do - questioning, reasoning etc. There was quite a lot I can't see working here (what with Ofsted and evidence and challenge and moving children on and differentiation) but I did find myself saying/doing things I'd picked up yesterday during today's lesson. I love teaching maths (Y3/4) and am maths lead, so maybe the good bits are already embedded.

Lesson was from a text book though (Shanghai G2 or something - my notes are in the car). I could see the most able might have needed much more challenge. Hardly fair though - poor things did have an audience of 80 in the school hall! They were great.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 25-Jan-19 19:50:08

That was one of the main questions I had about the article Inspector. If the difference at KS1 is real does it carry through ks2 and 3 or does it fade out? This report can’t answer that and from what I’ve read so far I can’t see that they’re going to follow up.


RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 25-Jan-19 19:59:35

X posts went. That was one of the other questionsi had from the TES article. What were the ‘changes’ in the contrast schools.. Because the changes in maths teaching in most schools these days are towards a mastery curriculum (define this however you like, everyone else does)

If that’s the case it’s hardly a control group if what you want to find out is whether ‘mastery’ is better than what was happening in schools before.

Neolara Fri 25-Jan-19 20:01:48

The school I was involved with, since introducing maths mastery has seen a pretty big fall in results, particularly in "greater depth" at both ks1 and 2. My impression is that high attainers are not stretched.

InspectorAlleyn Fri 25-Jan-19 20:27:39

@Rafals It would be really interesting if there were a follow-up to see what the impact is on the children from KS1 to KS2.

I’m (obviously) a fan of the approach, but it needs to be done with a full understanding of the approaches. The schools who print of White Rose and day they are “doing mastery” will probably struggle.

You made a very good point about parental/societal differences. When I was in Shanghai, it was very clear that parental support was a million miles away from what I experience in my own school, plus the whole ‘two lessons a day, the rest of the time planning, prep and intervention’ thing! Lots to learn from their teaching approach, though!

InspectorAlleyn Fri 25-Jan-19 20:28:52

*off/say 🙄 autocorrect!!

secretsciurusvulgaris Sat 26-Jan-19 13:25:22

I would agree that the more able are not being stretched. Division has been introduced in DD(7)’s class this week. One example was 12/4 which had to be worked out by colouring circles. DD can quite happily do short/ long division, so 7654/24 for example but she seems to be spending most of her time colouring in circles. 🤷‍♀️

SwimmingJustKeepSwimming Sat 26-Jan-19 13:43:29

Yep agree!

FionnaMAC Tue 29-Jan-19 13:50:53

To be fair secret, just because she can do long division doesn't mean she actually understands what is happening. I think this is where lots of parents butt heads with schools; parents want to see their children pushed onto more 'advanced' methods, but the new focus is on understanding. That is something that Shanghai maths has done better than the UK for years - they will spend as long as it takes on understanding why a method works, whereas we think 'it gives them the answer, so it's fine'. Then later on they come unstuck when applying those methods to problems is needed.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 29-Jan-19 22:51:11

I think, like any 'new thing' in education, this type of change in Maths teaching can be introduced well or badly, and interpreted well or badly in particular scenarios.

I suspect details of practice, interpretation and implementation (in what is being moved from, as well as what is being moved to) will be so different - both in the 'target' schools and the 'control' schoools - that it is really difficult to disentangle the contribution of 'Shanghai-ness' from the contribution of all the other factors.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 29-Jan-19 22:53:14

I mean, look at the (in many ways much simpler) move to synthetic phonics teaching.

One method for teaching reading, supported by specific reading books (for which grants were available), assessed by a particular national test ... but really not uniform AT ALL from school to school.

PhilomenaButterfly Tue 29-Jan-19 22:55:22

Oh fuck. So that makes my DC's school's maths leader's trip to Shanghai an expensive waste of time then.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 29-Jan-19 23:18:50

They do seem to have tried to tackle that issue, can’t. So, from an original cohort of 48 schools involved in the exchange, they narrowed it down to 10 where there was a high level of implementation in the 2 years before the SATs results they looked at.

Interestingly they do say that given the changes to the curriculum since 2014 the control schools might have been using a mastery based approach and that might be responsible for the lack of difference in results. Which is slightly reminiscent of the follow up to the Clack study where everyone seems to forget that the control group weren’t a control group.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 29-Jan-19 23:56:07

The thing is, I can name you a number of schools locally who have been to a greater or lesser degree involved in Shanghai teaching studies.

The differences between the precise implementation in each school is almost as wide as the difference between these schools and others, or between these same schools before and after implementation.

So it's not necessarily about the 'level' of implementation, but the precise details of exactly what is done and how the 'general principles' are interpreted in English practice (as exact replication simply isn't possible, for all sorts of cultural, financial and educational reasons - not least the relative homogeneity of Shanghai schools in terms of ability and social class [because children from certain social classes are not allowed to be educated in the city]) that may contribute to the difference / lack of difference.

taeglas Wed 30-Jan-19 08:29:21

*because children from certain social classes are not allowed to be educated in the city

“But critics pointed out that there may be other factors involved, such as specialist primary maths teachers in Shanghai only teaching two lessons a day, unlike generalist primary teachers in England.”

The following give a brief insight into the other side of the Chinese education system.


JustRichmal Wed 30-Jan-19 08:47:10

What is the "Mastery" method of teaching maths? From a short google, it seems it is getting teachers to specialise in teaching maths; getting a deep understanding of how a particular age group learns and delivering a lesson they will all understand at a much slower pace than in England so that no one is left behind.

It seems to rely on a child's ability being totally to do with nurture, not nature.

Also, without the years of training for specialist maths teachers it just seems like another government fad with the aim of keeping the learning in state schools at a slower pace than private.

Kokeshi123 Wed 30-Jan-19 08:49:20

I find it unbelievable that "Shanghai" is allowed to stand for "China"--I know China is routinely allowed to get away with cheating and lying on all sorts of international competitions (sport comes to mind), but I would have expected more of PISA.

Like, OK, why don't we get to enter "London" and pretend it stands for the whole of the UK? Ridiculous.

And Shanghai standing for China is even more ridiculous than London standing for the UK.

As explained in the above link, China's restrictive internal migration policies tightly control who is allowed to qualify as a Shanhainese and take part in their education system.

I have travelled widely in China--the urban-rural gap is vast, and a huge % of Chinese children is very poorly educated and is struggling with other issues, like being dumped with barely literate grandparents who cannot take care of them properly, and the impact of soil and air pollution and undernutrition etc.

borntobequiet Wed 30-Jan-19 08:59:31

Mathematical understanding needs to be quite sophisticated to understand how long division works.
Most people who can do it do it by rote, which is fine as it produces the right answer. (The manual methods we teach are largely based on the methods used by 19th century clerks.). But they generally can’t explain it.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 30-Jan-19 09:22:26

Just, there’s a TES article that defines it as something along the lines of ‘just use your own definition, everyone else is). Which just about sums it up.

What’s more incredible, kokeshi, is that Singapore and Shanghai seem to be used interchangeably despite the fact that they are two different systems

secretsciurusvulgaris Thu 31-Jan-19 12:51:39

DD understands what long division is and has no problem using it to solve word problems and apply it. She knew all of her tables by the start of Y1 and has no trouble converting fractions to decimals to percentages so maths is something she enjoys. To be fair she does not seem bored in class - she spends usually a few minutes completing whatever exercise she has to do then makes up her own questions in her jotter. Though she has been telling me about how much time she spends daydreaming - she didn’t know the word for this but explained it as forgetting where she was! Thanks to other posters on here we supplement with nrich, Penrose and prodigy (where she is looking at translations between the four quadrants at the moment). My point is that some children pick up maths much quicker than others and don’t need hours upon hours of the same thing to ‘master’ it.

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