Teacher Exchange

The London North East Maths Hub Shanghai Exchange 2019/20

In November 2019 we had 2 specialists from the London North East Maths Hub. Rob Sear and Becky Dokmanovic detail an account of their recent visit. Click on the link to read more.

The maths teacher exchange with Shanghai, since it began in 2014, has proved immensely valuable for both primary and secondary teachers in English schools.

Teachers here have worked closely with their Chinese counterparts and have seen, at first hand, the effectiveness of Shanghai maths teaching approaches, and how well the approaches can work with English children in English schools. This has led to increasing numbers of schools in England starting to implement approaches that have proved successful in China.

As a result, teachers are reporting that pupils in schools across England are developing a deeper understanding of maths that will serve them well in the future.


Countries at the top of the table for attainment in mathematics education employ a Mastery approach to teaching mathematics.

Teachers in Shanghai do not differentiate their maths teaching by restricting the mathematics that ‘weaker’ children experience, whilst encouraging ‘able’ children to ‘get ahead’ through extension tasks. Instead, they apply a Mastery approach that exposes almost all of the children to the same curriculum content at the same pace, allowing them all full access to the curriculum by focusing on developing deep understanding and secure fluency with facts and procedures, and providing differentiation by offering rapid support and intervention to address each individual pupil’s needs.

An approach based on mastery principles:

  • makes use of mathematical representations that expose the underlying structure of the mathematics;
    helps children to make sense of concepts and achieve fluency through carefully structured questions, exercises and problems that use conceptual and procedural variation to provide ‘intelligent practice’, which develops conceptual understanding and procedural fluency in parallel;
  • blends whole class discussion and precise questioning with intelligent practice and, where necessary, individual support.

Shanghai Style Open Lessons

It is indeed a shame as Rob and Becky have said that the Shanghai teachers will not return in the Spring Term 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we are still disseminating what we have learned from this years programme.