For the first time, a team of 60 teachers from high-performing schools in Shanghai will be hired in an attempt to promote Chinese-style teaching methods in the state education system.
The reforms – covering maths – will involve on-the-job training for teachers in England alongside high-level master-classes for pupils.
It comes amid concerns that schoolchildren in England are underperforming compared with their peers in the Far East in subjects seen as vital to the nation’s economic future.
International league tables published late last year suggested that 15-year-olds were the equivalent of three years behind those in Shanghai and between one and two years behind pupils from Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.
Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, who took part in a fact-finding visit to China last month, said the Government was “determined to drive up standards in our schools and give our young people the skills they need to succeed in the global race”.
But the move has been attacked by teachers’ leaders in England who claimed evidence of the success of Shanghai schools had been overstated.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said Shanghai was home to the “wealthiest and most highly educated” Chinese and international league tables failed to take account of performance in rural provinces.
国家教师协会的总秘书长Christine Blower 说，上海饱含“最富有、教育水平最高的”中国人，而国际联盟没有把中国的偏远地区包含在内。
“Good maths comes with constant practise but there seems to be an aversion to practise in this country. We have a lot to learn from China.”
Under a deal struck with Shanghai’s Municipal Education Commission, up to 60 English-speaking maths teachers will be brought over to work in state schools for at least a month.
From the autumn, they will be based in 30 new maths “hubs” – accredited schools that specialise and lead on maths teaching across a wide geographical area.
DfE officials said the Chinese teachers will mainly train their English counterparts, focusing on areas such as helping struggling pupils with one-to-one coaching sessions, setting challenging homework and ensuring feedback is effective. It could also involve master-classes for pupils.
At the same time, two maths teachers from each of the 30 hubs will travel to Shanghai to get additional training in Chinese methods. The entire programme will cost around ?11m.
Mrs Truss said: “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.
“Good maths qualifications have the greatest earnings potential and provide the strongest protection against unemployment.
“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. They have a can-do attitude to maths and I want us to match that, and their performance.”