THE BLOG

The Danger in Copying China's Classrooms

18/03/2014 11:26 GMT | Updated 14/05/2014 10:59 BST

Everyone seems to be excited about the Chinese education system these days.

After a recent OECD report showed that kids in China performed the best on an academic test, UK leaders panicked.

MP Elizabeth Truss got on the next plane to Shanghai to learn why they were 'three years ahead of their British counterparts.'

While I believe that there is much to learn from other countries, I have to ask if the Chinese system is right for us. After all, the UK is very different from China and has vastly different needs.

The Chinese place a very strong emphasis on rote memorisation, especially in maths. Now, maths is one skill and a very important one at that, but it isn't the only skill that employers need.

What about communication, teamwork and problem solving?

Education should empower people with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and make a positive impact on the economy, not simply pass exams. That's why it's essential that students leave school with the ability to translate their lessons from the classroom into the workplace.

I worry that this enthusiasm for the Chinese system will bring snap decisions that turn into policy without considering the bigger picture. It simply doesn't make sense to favour theory-based maths when so many employers are calling for real-word maths skills.

The whole point of studying the Chinese system is to help us improve. It's a worthwhile goal, but if we lose sight of our own country's needs in the process, we could be making everything worse.

As a recent report from the Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards said: 'Exporting a system is possible only if conditions and objectives in the respective countries are comparable.'

No country is the same, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to education.

Our children are doomed if we don't look beyond the exam scores we have, to the skills employers need -- skills that extend far beyond memorising facts.