Pupils face ‘on-screen’ times tables tests at age 11

All children will be expected to know their full times tables before leaving primary school and will be tested with an ‘on-screen check.’

The new plans unveiled by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, is part of the government’s “war on innumeracy and illiteracy”, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

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The idea was attacked by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Labour, with shadow education secretary Lucy Powell saying the Government had “run out of ideas for educational improvement.”

Morgan also warned that teachers will also be judged by the results of the tests.

She said: “Maths is a non-negotiable of a good education. Since 2010, we’ve seen record numbers of 11-year-olds start secondary school with a good grasp of the three Rs. But some continue to struggle.

“That is why, as part of our commitment to extend opportunity and deliver educational excellence everywhere we are introducing a new check to ensure that all pupils know their times tables by age 11.

“They will help teachers recognise those pupils at risk of falling behind and allow us to target those areas where children aren’t being given a fair shot to succeed.”

Pupils will expected to know all tables up to 12×12, with the skill measured using an “on-screen check” examination to be piloted by 3,000 students in 80 schools this summer before being rolled out countrywide in 2017. They will be given a time limit to answer the questions and will be scored immediately. 

This is the first use of on-screen technology in National Curriculum tests.

However, Powell attacked the Government over its recruitment of maths teachers, “Nothing is doing more damage to maths education in this country than the Government’s failure to recruit enough good maths teachers.

“Ministers have created chronic shortages of teachers up and down the country, particularly in key subjects such as English and maths. This is risking standards in our schools, and holding back both our young people and Britain’s future success.

“Times tables have long been a core part of excellent numeracy in our primary schools, and of testing. This announcement smacks of a government which has run out of ideas for educational improvement.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “As primary school pupils already have to learn their times tables by the end of year 4 Nicky Morgan’s announcement is clearly not about educational attainment but about the introduction of yet another test.

“We already have the most tested pupils in Europe – such endless testing stifles creativity and is ruining many children’s experience of learning.”

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