A GORSE Hill Primary teacher has embarked on an exciting Asian schools exchange programme aimed at improving maths education in the town.

Suzanne Matthews is one of 70 expert mathematics teachers from across England taking part in the exchange with schools in Shanghai and she set off on her travels on Saturday.

Gorse Hill Primary, part of the White Horse Federation Multi-Academy Trust, is working with the Boolean Maths Hub, based in Bristol for the project.

The purpose of the exchange is to further develop understanding of ‘mastery approaches’ to teaching maths which involves making sure all pupils – irrespective of their background – spend time becoming confident with the math objectives for their age, applying and being creative with new knowledge and skills in multiple ways.

It is hoped that the English teachers will learn more about the mastery approach as students aged 15 in south-east Asian countries are three years ahead in maths compared to their English peers.

“I feel very privileged to be going – it is a rare and special opportunity and I am very excited about it,” Suzanne said before making the trip.

“I chose to get into teaching because I love learning, I enjoy working with children and I love the idea that I can have a positive impact on a child’s life and future. It is my way of making a positive difference in the world I love in.

“We find that children generally enjoy maths because we reject the idea that there are some children who just can’t do maths. Through taking small, coherent steps and questioning to develop a deep, sustained understanding of mathematical concepts, the children are able to succeed, develop their understanding and hence their enjoyment of maths.

“When I have had the privilege of seeing Chinese teachers teach in previous exchanges, I have been inspired by the depth and detail of their planning and questioning to really develop secure understanding for the children. I hope to see more of that and develop that further in my own. I hope that the same will apply for other teachers in Swindon who will have the opportunity to see the Chinese teachers teach on the return visit."

The Teaching for Mastery Programme, run by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) in conjunction with the Maths Hubs programme, will see partner teachers from Shanghai visit English schools during November.

Suzanne, who has been teaching maths for 14 years, has been at Gorse Hill Primary for the last five years and it is the first time that anyone from the WHF has represented the town during the exchange.

She hopes to broaden her own knowledge during the two week trip but also spread what she has learnt on returning to Swindon.

“Personally, I know it will be a great experience. I am hoping to learn much about the way the Chinese teachers approach different topics in maths,” she said.

“I am very excited that the children at Gorse Hill will have the opportunity to be taught by the Chinese teachers and also that they will benefit from all that we can learn from them and apply in our own maths teaching in the school.

“I think it is vital that children are engaged with maths – a good foundation in maths is important in so many areas of life, whether it be knowing whether you have a good deal at the shops or giving you access to a career in subjects like science or engineering or even teaching.”