Cambridge Mathematics collaborates with China on international mathematics education

Lynne McClure, Director of Cambridge Mathematics, has spent a week in Beijing visiting leading policy makers to discuss how the UK and China can collaborate to create a mathematics education that benefits students from all countries and backgrounds – ensuring they are prepared with the skills necessary for adult life. The visit comes at a time when mathematics education around the world is being scrutinised following the latest set of PISA results.

At the Chinese Society of Education, Lynne met with Professor Shangzhi Wang of The Capital Normal University of Beijing and a number of his colleagues to discuss and compare the Chinese and UK mathematics curricula, text book design, teaching practice and research, professional development and student assessment.


Lynne commented on the meeting: “It was great to learn directly from experts in-country, reviewing the differences and similarities between the mathematics curricula in the UK and China. There is a huge benefit to both education systems from sharing good practice, taking the very best from both countries, and understanding what works and what might be missing. This will be important to the Cambridge Mathematics team in continuing to develop the framework[1] based on best practice evidence from around the world.”

The trip incorporated a visit to Dulwich School, a school that has been awarded for its work in the flipped learning of mathematics. This provided an opportunity for classroom observation and Lynne was able to see first-hand how subject teaching differs in China.


Lynne was then joined by Professor Geoff Hayward, Head of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Together they have been invited by the Beijing Institute of Education to establish a joint research project that will examine two key areas of mathematics education. The cross-country team analysed how pupils explore imaginative mathematics, related in particular to single step and multi-step problem solving. They also compared the pedagogical choices made by mathematics teachers at primary schools in Beijing and the UK and the implications of those choices for pupil learning.


The teams met for two days; the first day was focused on discussing the research project and the second day was dedicated to school visits and lesson observation.


Lynne commented: “I am honoured that the Beijing Institute of Education has invited Geoff and I to collaborate on this project. There has been considerable focus in the UK on what might be learned from Chinese education and this collaborative project confirms that Chinese educators are equally interested in UK practices and that there is mutual benefit in working together. The lessons in the Chinese classrooms emphasised even more strongly the difference between a curriculum which indicates general progression, and the detailed taking apart of conceptual progress into tiny steps which translate into classroom practice.


The information gathered on the trip will contribute to the development of a mathematics framework by the team at Cambridge Mathematics, which aims to provide an internationally recognised, high quality maths education for students aged five to 19.”

[1] Cambridge Mathematics is committed to securing a world class mathematics education for all students. The team is developing a framework which aims to provide an internationally recognised, high quality maths education for students aged five to 19.