TEACHERS from a leading educational trust are learning from the very best in an exchange initiative spanning the globe.
Primary school staff from the Carmel Education Trust are hosting a return visit from maths experts from Shanghai, where teaching methods are considered the most effective in the world.
Martina McCollom, head teacher of St Augustine’s Primary School, Darlington, and Lucy Ashley, a year 2 teacher at St Gregory’s School, Stockton, spent two weeks in China in the summer absorbing methods which secure their students’ global position at the top of the class.
In an free-flowing exchange of knowledge and expertise, a party of teachers from Shanghai is spending a month in the North-East working with teachers at St Augustine’s, St Gregory’s and Carmel College, Darlington, as part of a national pilot to master maths.
Speaking at the official launch of the Archimedes North-East Maths Hub Chief Executive of the Carmel Education Trust Maura Regan said: “We are all driven by data nowadays and this is about enjoying those eureka moments. Maths is truly an art and a phenomenon we cannot do without.
“This initiative is about sharing and learning from different cultures. The more we say we can do the more we succeed and that is exactly what the Chinese teachers bring, a can-do attitude.”
The launch, staged at Carmel College, attracted national figures in education including the director of the National Centre of Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics Robert Wilne.
There were also head teachers from across the region, Darlington Borough Council’s lead member for children and young people Cyndi Hughes, representatives from Durham University and the National Teaching Schools Council.
Delegates were told about the aims of the Shanghai partnership and maths hub:
• To raise achievements in maths
• Improve the maths teaching workforce
• Increase post-16 maths engagement
• Improve attitudes towards maths
• Share the Shanghai model with schools across the region
• Develop leadership and teaching courses
• Organise enhancement courses, workshops and study trips to Asia.
Mrs McCollom said: “Our visit was taken extremely seriously with senior officials flying in from Beijing to meet us.
“Their strategy for maths involves mastering knowledge of numbers and embedding it in the curriculum from a very young age. They ensure the highest quality of resources, particularly text books, which the teachers help write.
“Progress is very carefully monitored in every exercise with specialist teachers supporting colleagues, observing and analysing lessons and marking and correcting mistakes the same day. They constantly strive to improve and lesson are not so much planned as designed.”
Miss Ashley added: “Lesson in China were shorter and homework involved tackling a little bit every night with frequency improving fluency. We have had some really great discussions with our Chinese colleagues.”
Chinese teachers Peizhen Wang and Juanqin Cai told delegates about their observations of English teaching methods.
“Students are very happy in school and smile when they see us,” said Ms Wang. “They also play an important part in how the school displays their work whereas in China the teachers arrange it.”
Mr Wilne praised the trust for the quality of its schools and teaching. “But this quality isn’t everywhere in the region and the hub has work to do to spread this consistency across the North East,” he said. “I want everyone in every school to say they had amazing maths teachers.”