What can we learn from Shanghai?

12 March 2014

Teachers from Shanghai are to fly to the UK to help improve pupils' maths skills. So said BBC News, the Daily Mail, The Times (£) and the Telegraph today.

This follows a recent visit to the city by the Schools Minister, Elizabeth Truss, who was hoping to find out how Shanghai came out on top of the OECD's PISA measure for maths performance.

But the comparison — and the PISA measure itself — is problematic, as we discuss in our Spotlight. Shanghai's distinct education system means that it might not have the same socio-economic spectrum of pupils as the UK, which may affect its overall scores.

We can however use the measure to look at the performance of different pupils in terms of their parents' occupations. This is the type of analysis behind the Daily Mail's claim that "the children of cleaners and catering assistants in Shanghai were better at maths than the children of doctors and lawyers in Britain".

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.