Independent Thinking’s founder Ian Gilbert is currently based in Hong Kong. He posted this today:

I was fortunate enough today to visit a top set year-ten iGCSE maths class in a top-performing international school in Hong Kong with predominantly local students. According to their teacher, all the students ‘were going to get A*s’.

Three things struck me:

1 – How genuinely surprised the students were that England’s brightest pupils are two years behind the best in countries such as Hong Kong’ according to the reports. When I asked them what they would say to their English counterparts they replied ‘Not to worry, there are plenty of jobs out there for which you didn’t really need maths’.

2 – When asked why they felt getting an A* in their maths was important they said because ‘it looked good’.

3 – They felt that that an A* in maths at iGCSE would help them get into a good university even though they will subsequently go on to do the IB with its Higher Level maths component.

Maths aside, here are five more things I am seeing so far on my visits to international primary and secondary schools here:

1 – Young people want to learn

2 – Doing well at school is seen as a good thing by young people

3 – Their parents have high expectations

4 – Their teachers have the freedom to design an appropriate curriculum, not just deliver an inappropriate one

5 – Some of the highest achieving students from here are not making it through the Oxbridge interviews.

All of these I share simply as observations to help inform the debate.

It’s a big debate…

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