This is the latest press release from the Secretary of State for Education Who could argue against children 'learning their tables' - any more than learning the alphabet? But a national test? What! It gets worse.
Pupils aged 11 will be expected to know their tables up to 12x12, and will be tested using an "on-screen check". The checks will be piloted to about 3,000 pupils in 80 primary schools this summer, before being rolled out across the country in 2017. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said maths was a non-negotiable aspect of a good education. The "on-screen check" examination will involve children completing multiplication challenges against the clock, which will be scored instantly.
The Department for Education says it is the first use of on-screen technology in National Curriculum tests. Ms Morgan has also said teachers will be judged by the results of the tests: "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. "That is why, as part of our commitment to extend opportunity and deliver educational excellence everywhere. We are introducing a new check to ensure that all pupils know their times tables by age 11.
This conjures up Gradgrindian classroom senarios. The following is from Section C5.8 in 'Learning Matters'. " After a pause, one half of the children cried in chorus, ‘Yes Sir! Upon which the other half seeing in the gentleman’s face that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus , ‘No Sir!’ – as the custom is in these examinations. ‘I’ll explain it to you, then’, said the gentleman, after another and a dismal pause, ‘why you wouldn’t paper a room with representations of horses. Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of rooms in reality – in fact? Do you?’ ‘Yes sir!’ from one half. ‘No, sir!’ from the other. ‘Of course no,’ said the gentleman, with an indignant look at the wrong half. ‘Fact, fact, fact!’ said the gentleman. And ‘Fact, fact, fact!’ repeated Thomas Gradgrind. You are to be in all things regulated and governed,’ said the gentleman, ‘by fact. We hope to have , before long a board of fact, composed of commissioners of fact, who force the people to be a people of fact, and nothing but fact.”
See here and here. Is the primary school classroom to become an 'arithmetic madrassa' full of chanting children and permeated by fear: that of the children that risk public humiliation for nor being able to respond with the right answer within the requisite number of seconds and that of the teacher of a memory deficient SEN class fearful of failing the national class computer tables assessment?