Shanghai CPD Day
The day we spent at Chailey Secondary School was eye opening in many ways, and I can see why the UK government would like to replicate their method and hopefully their results in this country.
From the outset I had a few reservations:
- The pressure that China puts on its students is very demanding, they have long school hours and lots of homework and a requirement to succeed. Which in my opinion is linked to the massively high suicide rate in younger people.
- That lessons were massively structured with one teacher in front of many pupils listing equations and laws that the students must recite.
- The large class sizes.
- The BBC portrayal of Shanghai teachers.
After the talk from the British teachers the vast majority of my reservations were dispelled. I found that the lessons were in fact are more of inquiry led lesson with little to no differentiation. Their curriculum is edited roughly every 2/4 years to make sure it is the best it can be and the lesson are taught using the designated state textbook which is also continually improved (both the curriculum and the textbook are discussed and edited with vast input from current teachers which is vastly different to the UK)
I imagined that there would be more emphasis on the teaching of mathematical facts, rules and laws for example the same style of teaching that was used in the past in the UK to teach times tables. With the teacher asking pupils to recite them until they could do so from memory. What I discovered was that all the teaching subtly linked back to the laws, facts and rules of maths which better supported in my opinion the pupils learning.
The questions that the students answer (mainly from the textbook) get progressively harder but not in the same way as English ones do. They represent questions in different ways and get the “more able students” to help teach the “less able”.
After watching the two mock lessons given by the two Shanghi maths teachers an upper and a lower set, I found that the “Shanghai Method” of teaching worked very well for the upper set and less well with the lower set. I found that the lesson with the upper set was more fluid.
The lack of differentiation was interesting as it assumes that all the students are at the same level. Although I found that due to the style they were. This is because of many things, the first being that students are asked to learn a lot less in a year but go into much great depth. This means there is no overlap in their curriculum between years. Secondly if the student has not done well in the lesson or their daily homework they are picked up that day with the teacher for individualised intervention. The teachers can do this because they only teach 3 lessons a day maximum and this allows more time for the intervention, CPD, improving lesson plans and marking.
One thing I would like to say is that Shanghai teachers get a massive amount of time for CPD, lesson planning and marking compared to teachers in the UK. Also that their lesson observations are almost entirely based on the Pedagogy of the teacher rather than the progress, differentiation, classroom management, planning, range of actives provided and self-assessment procedures that British teachers face. The British government continually say that they want better teachers and I think that all the paperwork and analysis that is required by British teachers gets in the way.