What is the ‘Asian method’ of teaching Maths?


What it is ‘Asian Method’ of teaching Maths?

The ‘Asian Method’ of teaching Maths, different to the way ‘we teach maths’ is also known as the ‘mastery’ approach and originates in the Far East, being used in regions such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. It first came to England in 2014 but an additional 8,000 schools will be offered the chance to teach it after a government announcement earlier this month – meaning that half of primary schools may adopt the method.

How is it different?

The first major difference is that children would be taught as a whole class rather than being split up depending on their perceived mathematical ability. The idea is that the whole class progress at the same speed, with those who grasp concepts more easily being encouraged to deepen their understanding rather than getting ahead of classmates.

The method focuses on building a depth of understanding across all students in the class with the support of high quality textbooks. Students are encouraged to visually represent mathematical concepts and to ‘begin with the answer’ – i.e. pupils could be given the answer to a problem before working through the steps that get to it. Rather than a teacher explaining a concept and then students practicing individually, the teacher will teach pupils interactively at a more regimented pace.


Why is it spreading?

The reason the mastery approach is spreading is largely due to 15 year-old students in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong out-performing their peers in other countries, such as the UK and the USA, in international tests.


The most significant advantage is that no pupil in the class gets left behind and the ‘less able’ are not demoralized by being placed in a ‘lower performing’ group. Theoretically, this should empower children and ensure that they all have the best chance of scoring highly and there should be less disparities between classmates’ results. It also ensures that pupils do not fall behind and then find it increasingly difficult to catch up as the academic year progresses.


The downside of a whole class progressing together is that it puts social pressure on pupils who may find the lesson more difficult. These students may feel anxious and resent their lessons. Having such a regimented system of learning may also negate creativity amongst pupils as their thinking becomes more formulaic with a group. It is also important to note that using international tests to determine ways of teaching doesn’t take into account other factors that might impact performance. For example, Maths teachers in China are trained for 5 years and more specifically to the age level they will teach, whereas training in England is much shorter.

Do you think that the Mastery Method should be introduced into our educational system or is our current system working well as it is?

Please get in touch with us via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to let us know your thoughts.

BLOG EDUCATION tutoring service

Tutoring to inspire enterprising behaviour

This is a guest post from one of the founders of Clever Tykes, a series of children’s storybooks written to inspire enterprising behaviour in Key Stage 2 children. Ben Cook explains how expert tutoring helps to develop key traits in children.


I recently read Genie Tutors’ previous post on tutoring programmes during the summer and I’d like to explore those principles in a little more detail. I’ve accrued a lot of experience working with parents, teachers and children in Key Stage 2, particularly seven to ten years of age. The difference in attitudes of children of different backgrounds is significant, and that was, in fact, one of the primary reasons we developed the Clever Tykes books.

The series was born out of the principle that children who grow up with an enterprising role model in their family are more likely to grow up to start a successful business. The idea is that the more creativity and confidence we can instil in children, the better their life prospects. Tutoring programmes certainly have their role to play in enterprise education.

Schoolteachers do their best to provide children with a broad and well-rounded education. However, the demands of the national curriculum and having exams at every turn, puts pressure on teachers to prioritise academic subjects. This is especially true for children in secondary school and moving into Key Stage 4. This is why additional teaching with a tutor that understands the need to develop a broad range of skills is likely to separate an academically strong child from a prime candidate for a range of careers.


But why is enterprising behaviour so important?

Being enterprising refers to having a number of skills such as independence, resourcefulness and resilience as well as having a positive attitude towards life and its challenges. These are the characteristics that not only help a child succeed in education but in their career, especially should they wish to start a business at any stage.


And how can tutoring help?

Small group tutoring is a unique experience and one that helps develop these new traits. Tutors also serve to develop those skills not necessarily developed in the classroom environment. Another, often overlooked, benefit of having a tutor is that a child has a new role model in their life, focused on building a positive “can do” attitude. Clever Tykes’ research has highlighted the importance of role models in a child’s development process and a tutor represents something alternative to a parent and a teacher who can help raise aspirations and build confidence.

Children very quickly adopt the traits of those around them; it’s exactly why we’re wary of them falling in with ‘the wrong crowd’. Private tutors at Genie typically have a very positive outlook on life, work and education and having this attitude adopted by children is perfect, especially if you’re unsure how they’re obtaining it from their school experience.

The combination of developing new knowledge and skills as well as having a positive role model in their life makes having a tutor a real benefit for children of all ages. Whilst younger children are more impressionable and likely to adopt these traits more quickly, arguably it is more important that older children, closer to entering the world of work, benefit from tutoring. It shows there is never a wrong time to start tutoring to help children be more enterprising.



Competitive school sports days


It’s around this time of the year that many schools begin to ease out of the stressful academic year and exam season by having students participate in fun activities like summer fetes and sports days.


There’s been plenty of conversation around the competitive nature of sports days, with progressive education practitioners campaigning for it to be stamped out. On one hand, sports days put lots of children at a disadvantage with the focus of physical ability rather than creativity or problem-solving skills.


As Albert Einstein said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.


Having said this, competition is a pivotal part in any child’s growth, a part of the school system that comprises the ‘hidden curriculum’ area of learning. It focuses less on academic development, and more on personal and social development.


Competition is a necessary part of life. For some it starts when we compete to attend the best secondary schools, universities and eventually, careers. Should we not begin to teach competitiveness at a young age to prepare students for life after education where ‘taking part’ simply isn’t enough?


An Ofsted report found that in the most successful schools, both state and private, headteachers recognise that competitive sport can help build a positive ethos and boost grades.


So, what are the pros of hosting competitions in schools?


Firstly, it teaches children that cheaters never prosper, highlighting the importance of playing by the rules and reinforces the idea that cheating comes with consequences.

Secondly, it teaches us how to accept defeat gracefully. Unfortunately, you cannot always win, but what’s important is how you learn from your loss and apply it. Learning these lessons at a young age allows children to manage expectations, something that could benefit them later in life. Learning how to be a good winner is also a major social lesson, without which, could lead to awkward social encounters, especially when moving into secondary education.


Academic benefit


Activities such as these also have been found to have a positive impact on academic prowess. A study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in August, 2007 found that students who were active in sports like soccer, American football and even skateboarding performed 10 percent better in core subjects like maths, science, social studies and language arts.


Goal-setting and team work


Competition is also a great way to set yourself goals. Though using this in a sports context, this is important for many areas of life such as improving grades and work ethic.

Many reports have also highlighted the necessity of sport and physical activities to mental wellbeing of young people. The Youth Sport Trust says Physical Education can be used to raise the self-esteem of young people and give them confidence.


Learning how to work within a team is a skill we need to learn at a young age to make sure school work and our professional lives are successful. Sports activities such as relay races and tug-of-war show that sometimes you need teammates and peers to be successful!



On a final note, we should not overlook the fact that encouraging children to partake in sport can help to reduce the risk of many physical problems such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. These are issues that schools can help overcome through physical education and participation in sports day creates motivation for children to improve their health and fitness.



We’re firmly behind schools hosting competitive sports days and believe the traits developed are incredibly important for children. Besides, without sports days, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to witness heart-warming moments like this.

For more blogs from Genie Tutors go to