If you can’t beat 'em, hire 'em! In an attempt to replicate the math success of Shanghai’s teenagers, consistently at the top in international rankings, England will be importing teachers from the Chinese megacity to help raise local standards.
Up to 60 Shanghai math teachers will be descending on schools in England beginning this fall, teaching students in 30 “math hubs” while also training local teachers via an arrangement with the U.K.’s Department of Education.
The new initiative was announced following reports that poor adult math skills in the U.K. are costing the economy billions every year. According to a report by the BBC, the U.K.’s poor numeracy skills cost the national economy an estimated 20 billion pounds per year, with an economic analysis putting that at equivalent to 1.3 percent of the nation's GDP.
Now, in hopes of remedying the dismal numbers, the National Numeracy Challenge is helping math standards by targeting grade school students. Mike Ellicock, the chief executive of National Numeracy, says that math has been a weak spot for many in the U.K., with the math skills of 78 percent of working-age adults ranking below a secondary school C- grade.
Ellicock says that the 60 English-speaking math teachers were picked from Shanghai because of the ability of their students to consistently top the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) education reports and tests called Pisa. The OECD reportedly found that children of poor families in Shanghai are on average better at math than the average middle-class student from the U.K.
The teachers will be deployed to various “math hubs.” These hubs will be in partnerships with schools that bid to be part of the numeracy program.
“We have some brilliant maths teachers in this country, but what I saw in Shanghai -- and other Chinese cities -- has only strengthened my belief that we can learn from them," Elizabeth Truss, the education minister, who recently made a visit to Shanghai, said in the report.
“As part of our long-term economic plan, we are determined to drive up standards in our schools and give our young people the skills they need to succeed in the global race,” Truss said, adding that advanced math skills are a strong “protection against unemployment.”