Time tables will multiply knowledge

Time tables will multiply knowledge

It’s a fact that must not be ignored – children cannot do the most basic of sums without knowing their times tables.

Times tables are essential for grasping multiplication and it’s impossible to do short and long division without knowing them.

It’s not ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘learning by rote.’ Knowing your times tables is the fundamental foundation for all maths knowledge.

That is why I warmly welcome today’s announcement that the government is introducing ‘times table checks’ at ages 8 and 9.

Knowing times tables up to 12 improves number bonding up to 144.

And testing children so schools can identify those that are struggling with their times tables is essential.

These checks will mean teachers have to ensure all pupils learn them – I am still discovering children aged nine, ten and 11 who don’t know them.

Youngsters in Asian countries are taught them as a priority, not as a luxury and this is one reason they’re ahead of us in the international league tables.

For years, the progressives have advocated a Laissez-faire attitude to this and it’s been disastrous. In the Labour era (1997-2010) teachers were told tables should be taught but the advice was often ignored.

I would advocate learning up to the 12 times table by the end of year 3, but the government opted for the end of year 4. It is a big improvement, however, and these new national checks should help cement it in.