Although Labour’s education spokesman, Stephen Twigg, says ‘we need to understand why East Asian countries out perform us in key skills – particularly science and maths’, there is no trick to figuring it out, a successful maths curriculum is not magic. The Singapore Ministry of Education simply gathered together reports from recognised international bodies (in the UK and elsewhere) and research from world-renowned educational psychologists to produce a world-class strategy that places problem solving at its heart.
Along with a strong ethos of teacher training and professional development, Singapore schools use resources that have been carefully crafted over decades to meet very specific criteria set out by the Ministry of Education. All classroom resources must follow the ethos of the curriculum and make sure that students of all abilities are challenged. The resources are used to ensure pupils have the right learning experience at the right time and in the correct sequence. Topics are taught to mastery which means all students are expected to master concepts before new ideas are introduced.
Pupils benefit from methods which are consistently refined and which are known to work. Teachers are not distracted trying to cobble together resources which allows them to concentrate on teaching and assessing students’ progress.