Changing times – Compulsory times tables testing at primary schools

Changing times – Compulsory times tables testing at primary schools

It’s taken long enough but at last education chiefs are recognising the need for children to get the basics right in maths.

A key part of this is learning their times tables.

The government has announced that all 11-year-olds will be tested on their times tables before leaving primary school.

During the progressive education revolution learning by rote was considered to be old-fashioned.

Soon the daily practice of reciting times tables in class was abandoned, along with blackboards and chalk.

Although whiteboards and screens can adequately replace blackboards, there’s no better way of helping a child solve mathematical problems than by teaching them their times tables. It’s the basis for all maths knowledge.

I’ve long argued that progressive education is good – as long as the fundamental skills and knowledge are put in place first.

For children to grasp more complicated maths at secondary school they need the basic groundings – and that includes knowing their times tables.

If testing every pupil on their times tables before they leave primary schools means the return of practising them daily in the classroom then I welcome the move.

The government test will see the first use of on-screen technology in nationwide testing as children will complete it on a computer. There’s something rather heartening in seeing the most modern of methods used to assess the so-called old-fashioned.

Learning times tables is not old-fashioned – it’s an essential grounding for all learners.

This is a welcome revival and one I know will make a huge difference to the maths ability of children across the country.