Shanghai Maths sets very high standards of measurable achievement for students and is inclusive – the teacher’s mission is to take the whole class forward at a measured pace with no student being left behind. It’s basis is in frequent practise and consolidation of understanding. Students are given a wide variety of questions or problems to solve blended together to enable a teacher to see patterns of thinking. Under-performing pupils are identified and the teacher intervenes to improve their attainment.
In Singapore Maths a student’s starting point is set by their prior attainment but again is inclusive and measured. In this model the teacher uses concrete and pictorial abstract succession to check and foster understanding.
In many ways these two models align in their use of engaging questions to achieve mastery. They are both procedural and weave together fluency and understanding which are taught at the same time. Underpinning both is the solid belief and that expectation that all children are capable of mastering mathematics and that no matter what their starting ability they can achieve good results.
The question remains though: how does the inclusive nature of these models play with personalised learning or differentiated instruction? It is that dichotomy that is troubling some teachers.