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Education in the media: Wednesday 14 February 2018

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the announcement of the new multiplication tables checks for Year 4 pupils.

Multiplication tables checks

Today, Wednesday 14 February, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has announced plans to introduce a multiplication tables check for Year 4 primary school pupils. Schools can choose to introduce the check from June next year, before it is rolled out to every school in England from 2020.

BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain, Talk Radio, Sky, LBC and the Radio 4 Today Programme interviewed Minister Gibb this morning about the check. BBC News, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail, Guardian, the Sun, the Huffington Post and TES also covered the announcement this morning.

The multiplication tables checks are designed to help ensure children in primary school know their times tables up to 12 years old off by heart. As well as being crucial for everyday life, the knowledge of multiplication tables helps children to solve problems quickly and flexibly, and allows them to tackle mathematics that is more complex.

The check follows the successful introduction of the phonics screening check in 2012. There are now 154,000 more six-year-olds on track to become fluent readers than in 2012 and England’s recent rise up the international PIRLS rankings puts the success of the government’s reforms on a global scale.

The Telegraph published an article by Mark Lehain, the Director from Parents and Teachers for Excellence, who says the checks could have a ‘game changing’ affect on children’s numeracy skills.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

Academic standards are rising in our schools thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, with 1.9 million more pupils in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010. It is important to have an assessment system that continues to drive this improvement.

Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support. This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of fundamental arithmetic as a foundation for mathematics.

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