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St Alban’s Teachers bring back Maths Mastery from Singapore

Author: St Albans Academy Published: 3rd October 2011 11:23

Although having achieved 82% Maths A* to C in their GCSE grades this year, ARK Schook, St Alban's Academy is not resting on its laurels.  A group of mathematics teachers, including Dr H Hassan (Assistant Principal - Director of Mathematics Specialism) and Mrs Ali (KS3 Maths Coordinator) from St Albans travelled to Singapore during the Summer holidays to learn from their best practice in mathematics education.

Singapore's approach to teaching Maths, termed 'Singapore Mathematics', has received international interest and recognition as a focused and in-depth approach to teaching and learning Maths.  In 2003 the Trends In Mathematics and Scdience study (TIMSS) showed Singapore at the top of the world in 4th and 8th grade mathematics.

The study tour included visits to two primary schools and two secondary schools, comprising lesson observations, presentations from principals and heads of maths and discussions with maths and other teaching staff.

The visiting teachers were overwhelmed by the impressive standards and the quality of teaching.  "Explanations of maths' concepts are exceptionally clear and simple (often just a few words in a cartoon balloon) so students can read it easily," explained Dr Hassan.  "The Singaporean maths teams really make the mantra 'no child left behind' a reality. One student said "of course, if we do not understand a lesson, we stay after school with the teacher, and then we understand".

Singapore schools use advances in technology to teach and for students to learn mathematics.  The use of MSN, Facebook and Twitter in one of the secondary schools offered great potential to enhance the teaching and learning of maths.  Students have opportunities to discover reason and communicate mathematics through this electronic medium.  They were able to engage in stimulating discussions and activities where they can explore possibilities and make connections.

The trip to Singapore ties in with ARK's new approach to teaching maths called Mathematics Mastery.  The approach is based on the curricula principles of the most consistently high performing nations over the past 30 years, adapted to the needs of its pupils.

Students following the Maths Mastery programme study fewer topics in greater depth each year, and learn to solve a wide variety of challenging problems.  The programme uses hands on materials and clear engaging visuals to present concepts and model solutions.




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