Worthing teachers visit Shanghai on maths exchange programme

Two Worthing teachers have been to Shanghai on a flagship government maths exchange programme and will be feeding back what they have learned to schools across Sussex.

Michelle Cannon and Melanie Squires are part of the Sussex Maths Hub and have been working on the mastery system of teaching for the past three years.

Melanie Squires, left, and Michelle Cannon working with children in Shanghai

Melanie Squires, left, and Michelle Cannon working with children in Shanghai

They were thrilled to be selected for the two-week visit to China on the England-Shanghai Mathematics Teacher Exchange, where they visited six different primary schools and watched 12 lessons, as well as planning and teaching a lesson of their own.

Michelle, maths lead at Heene Primary School, said: “The idea is that instead of having ones who can’t do maths and ones who are amazing, you consider that everyone can do maths and instead of working in ability groups, they all work together.”

The mastery system is about structured discovery, giving pupils a deep understanding of the subject from the start, so they have a solid basis before moving on to more advanced material.

Melanie, maths lead at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, said: “In Shanghai, they are constantly polishing to make it the best learning and that is something we all want to aspire to, that self-improvement.”

Michelle Cannon and Melanie Squires with Shanghai teachers Jiayun Huang, known as Helen, and Hui Zhang, known as Hazel

Michelle Cannon and Melanie Squires with Shanghai teachers Jiayun Huang, known as Helen, and Hui Zhang, known as Hazel

Both Heene and St Mary’s have been introducing the mastery system over the past three years and Michelle and Melanie agreed it had resulted in much more positive attitudes in the classroom.

By going to Shanghai to learn from the experts, they are now brimming with ideas to develop their lessons further and will be able to pass on their knowledge to their partner schools elsewhere in Sussex.

Michelle said: “We are three years down the road and I have seen things now I want to change in my classroom.”

Melanie added that in Shanghai, everything in the maths lessons was related to real life, which helped the children to understand it better.

She added: “It is not that our children are doing badly, it is more a question of why aren’t they doing better, when they have so many opportunities.”

Since their schools have introduced mastery, both Michelle and Melanie have seen a change, with improved behaviour in lessons and a real ‘can do’ attitude.

Melanie said the children have to explain their thoughts and reasoning, so their maths books now have a lot of words in, as well as numbers.

She said the system involved episodic teaching, a ping-pong approach, where the teacher and the children work as a team, taking it in turns to have input into the lesson.

Michelle and Melanie have been working with Shanghai teachers Jiayun Huang, known as Helen, and Hui Zhang, known as Hazel, who will be coming to Worthing in March for a two-week return visit.