Why has this Asian style of teaching maths become so influential in UK schools?
Maths Mastery, or Singapore Maths as it’s more commonly known, was first seen in UK schools in 2014. The term, originally coined in the US, describes an approach developed in Singapore, using a three-step learning process.
In 2016, the UK government pledged to support this teaching style by providing £41 million of funding to 8,000 schools, over four years.
But why has this Asian style of teaching maths become so influential in UK schools?
1. Singapore are world leaders in teaching maths
Singapore has invested heavily in its education system and its pupils have become the highest achievers in international maths tests. Culturally, Singaporeans have a strong commitment to educational achievement and there’s a national focus on excellence. Their approach to teaching has been shown to work with Singapore ranked as world leaders in results from PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).
2. It’s maths mastery, not just learning for a test
The approach teaches fewer topics in greater depth which focuses on problem solving skills, rather than mental arithmetic. Pupils don’t just learn equations to reach an answer, they learn now the equation works. They learn to think mathematically as opposed to reciting formulas they don’t understand.
3. Children are taught as a whole class
There’s a focus on whole class interactive teaching at a brisk tempo, rather than teacher explanation followed by slower individual group practice. High quality textbooks, rather than worksheets are used. The mastery approach sees the whole class progressing together, with higher achievers being encouraged to deepen their understanding, rather than accelerating ahead of classmates.
4. It’s a visual three-step learning process
Pupils are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts, so objects and pictures are used to demonstrate and visualise abstract ideas, alongside numbers and symbols. Learning maths begins with concrete; blocks, cards, buttons etc. Then there’s the abstract equations; 4 + 1 = 5. Singapore maths introduces the pictorial stage which is seen as a bridge between concrete and abstract equations.
5. The UK have adopted the style
The Department for Education, the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (NCETM), the National Curriculum Review Committee and OFSTED have all emphasised the style of teaching and problem solving developed in Singapore. Maths textbooks based on the Singapore Maths approach are being used in thousands of schools across the UK and have been widely adopted by the Department for Education’s Maths Hubs.
YPO supplies many products that can help you deliver a Singapore Maths class lesson.
To request a copy of our Maths brochure, please click here.