In a bid to ensure children in England are equipped with the necessary literacy and numeracy skills by the time they leave primary school, new government rules would see each pupil know their times tables by heart, otherwise their school would be subject to a series of measures.
The move has been backed by education secretary Nicky Morgan, who wrote in the Sunday Times that by the age of 11, all children in the UK will have memorised their times tables, be able to perform long division and complex multiplication, and be able to read a novel by the time they leave primary school.
“Some will say this is an old-fashioned view, but I say that giving every child the chance to master the basics and succeed in life is a fundamental duty of any government. It’s the very minimum that a government should do and the very least the public should expect,” Ms Morgan said.
If the Conservative party win this year’s May election, the plans will be set in place.
All state schools across the country that have consistently failed to have a proportion of year-six pupil pass times tables and writing tests would fall under the new guidelines.
Schools that fail to get each pupil to pass the tests for two consecutive years could be paired with a school that has an ‘outstanding’ rating to gain extra support. What’s more, a headteacher from the highest rated school could temporarily take over in the lower rated institution.
But the latest proposals have come under fire by the Labour party and teaching unions.
Russell Hobby, head of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “An inspiring and stretching ambition is essential. That is not what this latest gimmick is about. This is about breaking the morale of a profession to score points in the election.”
And the rules may spark controversy among parents of children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. In this instance, parents and teachers may prefer to use additional supportive teaching methods, like assistive technologies.