Up to 60 Shanghai maths teachers are to be brought to England to raise standards, in an exchange arranged by the Department for Education.
They will provide masterclasses in 30 "maths hubs", which are planned as a network of centres of excellence.
Shanghai's pupils have the highest maths results in international tests.
The announcement comes as a campaign is launched to raise adult maths skills, with warnings that poor numeracy is costing the UK economy £20bn per year.
The National Numeracy Challenge aims to improve numeracy levels for a million people.
It is providing an online self-assessment test - with help for those lacking in confidence in maths.
The proposals to bring 60 English-speaking maths teachers from Shanghai is an attempt to learn from a city that has been the top performer in the OECD's Pisa tests.
The OECD says that children of poor families in Shanghai are on average better at maths than middle class children in the UK.
The Shanghai teachers, expected to arrive from the autumn, will help share their teaching methods, support pupils who are struggling and help to train other teachers.
They will be based in "maths hubs" - and bidding to become such a specialist centre will open on Wednesday.
The maths hubs will be partnerships of schools, which will work with maths experts and share best practice with other schools in their area.