Tory Schools Minister Nick Gibb has suffered his second humiliation in as many days.

Gibb is leading a traditionalist drive – backed by the likes of Toby Young – to replace modern teaching methods with old fashioned drilling.

His latest gimmick is to make all 8 and 9-year-olds sit computer-based tests to see whether they know their times tables up to 12 off by heart.

Mary Bousted of the National Teaching Union said the policy “simply reflects a ministerial obsession with testing children.”

But Gibb insisted: “This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables by heart.”

If they do, then they’ll be one step ahead of him judging by this interview:

That embarrassment comes hot on the heels of a major blow to Gibb and his allies in the “neo-traditionalist” education movement.

Scrapbook reported yesterday how the first ‘knowledge-based’ teacher training course is being closed down – just 5 months after it began.

It was led by Rob Peal, a teacher at the free school founded by Toby Young who was seconded to work as a policy adviser and speech writer for Gibb.

Once again, the sums don’t add up for the Tories…

MORE: Tories’ old school teaching fantasy fails first test as a course led by Toby Young disciple collapses

  1. There is a reason for knowing your times tables, it makes a lot of things a lot easier, especially if, like me, you went to school when we still had not only pounds, but shillings and pence. But it is only a tool, not the be-all and end-all of education.

    I am sick of rank amateur politicians shooting their mouths off, trying to tell professional teachers what to teach, how to teach it, and how to assess it.

  2. I left primary school not knowing my time’s tables. Yet I got a B at A-level Maths, have been known to do calculus for fun, understand logic and predicate calculus and I’m quite good with matrices and vector calculus. I did Pure and Applied Mathematics for A-Level. I also got a B in Physics.

    Different children develop their individual skills at different rates compared to other children. I’m neither a teacher, nor a psychologist, yet this much is obvious to me.

  3. All this will do is engender an early hatred of maths for many children. Much like the obsession with PE being about competitive sports, rather than enjoying exercise. This just hammers into children that if they can’t do arithmetic in their heads, then they are incapable of understanding mathematics. Considering the recent obsession with STEM subjects, this is an entirely retrograde measure.

  4. I didn’t know my times table when I left primary school yet I have a 2:1 in psychology and counselling from university. I went to do an access course with minimal tests and a lot of course work. Tests stress me out and I fail. Course work let’s me use my brain to understand the information. She I did exams at uni I retained the information until the exam was over.

  5. I do know my times tables pretty well by rote. But I don’t know why or how to deploy that knowledge. So I never got to learn the language of maths. There are loads of ways to add and subtract and multiply but I never was taught them either. Could have done with abandoning mental arithmetic much earlier in and just got on with some bloody algebra and equations!

  6. I went to a Montessori school and tables were not taught. I have suffered ever since not knowing what 6 x 9 is without having tow work it out

  7. It’s just as well (for them – unfortunate for us) that breathing comes naturally to the tory twunts. If they had to learn how to do it…

  8. I find this really disappointing, every time it happens.
    Why? Because ultimately this is all the story becomes about!

    I wouldn’t put it past them to do it on purpose, as whilst people are bleating about how, for instance, a Schools Minister can’t do maths, they are no longer focused on the underlying policy.
    Classic distraction politics.
    Let’s face it, the Minister will hardly be worried about his reputation in such infantile circumstances, and as a bonus he gets to walk away without proper scrutiny of his policy. Result!

    Who ever said these muppets were experts anyway, regardless of he department they find themselves currently in? They never stay in the same job for more than 5 mins! Unless you are Jeremy Hunt of course, for some inexplicable reason 🙁

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