All 11 year olds to face on-screen times tables tests

On the 11th day of Christmas, the government announced plans to crackdown on “innumeracy" and introduce a new computerised test to ensure that all 11-year-olds know their times tables by the time they leave primary school.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said today that a pilot scheme will be rolled out to 3,000 pupils in 80 primary schools approaching the end of Key Stage Two, with a view to all schools adopting the on-screen test in 2017. Children must learn their times tables up to 12x12 and, if they are identified as falling short, will be given help and support to catch up and prevent further numeracy problems at secondary school. 

Refusing to answer any quick-fire times tables questions herself on Good Morning Britain, the Education Secretary explained that the timed, online test is designed to take pressure off teachers by providing an instant score, and will reduce the thousands of children leaving primary school without basic numeracy skills.

Launching the new scheme, Nicky Morgan said:

“Maths is a non-negotiable part 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."

Rather than hoping pupils can rely upon other arithmetic knowledge to work out problems in their SATS, this test, according to the Education Secretary:

“...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."

The test underlines the new Key Stage Two Primary Curriculum requirement that children ‘master’ non negotiables and attain higher standards in line with international practices.

According to national statistics, 87% of pupils reached the expected standard in maths in 2015 as opposed to 79% in 2010 but 74,000 children are still struggling to catch up at secondary school which can have a negative affect on GCSE results. 

As a parent, I am concerned that this is yet another, in a long line of tests that await my two primary school children. But there is also a part of me that can’t help feeling a little relieved that with a concrete and nationally expected goal to aim for, I won’t be alone in preparing my children for times table fearlessness.

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