David Cameron: Teachers unions ‘dismissing the life chances’ of children by saying they can look up times tables on mobiles

The Telegraph is reporting that David Cameron has accused teaching unions of “dismissing the life chances” of Britain’s children by suggesting they can look up the answers to their times tables on mobile phones. 

Earlier this year Ms Blower said forcing primary school children to know their full times tables is unnecessary because they can look up the answers on mobile phones.

Her comments came after the government said every child will be expected to know their times tables off by heart when they leave primary school as part of the Government’s “war on innumeracy”…

Speaking in Islington, north London, Mr Cameron said: “Dismissing knowledge is, frankly, dismissing the life chances of our children.

“Frankly, that is exactly what people like the general secretary of the NUT are doing when they say children don’t need to learn their times tables because they can use their phone instead. That is utterly the wrong thinking. 

“All the things knowledge helps infuse – innovation, creativity, problem solving – are the qualities our employers want.” 

The Prime Minister used a keynote speech to launch a major campaign to encourage high-flying mentors to pass on their experiences to youngsters at risk of dropping out of school…

More at: David Cameron: Teachers unions ‘dismissing the life chances’ of children by saying they can look up times tables on mobiles


Is David Cameron right to call Christine Blower out over her comments on children not needing to learn their times tables?

What about his broader point on the value of knowledge and the suggestion we undermine the life chances of children by not promoting it?

Please give us your reactions and insights in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. GrahamFrost1

    SchoolsImprove knowing things is good and necessary. Problem is imposed tests skew balance in what knowledge and skills are taught (or not)

  2. Bedtonman

    SchoolsImprove a bit rich from the person making the poor get poorer damaging children’s health and life chances through his policies

  3. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove “utterly the wrong thinking”? “People like” Christine Blower? Sounds bad. Must be bad. Doesn’t say why, though, does he?

  4. Funny the DT didn’t quote Blower in full like the Independent: ““Children will learn the times tables in an appropriate way if they are taught in an appropriate way.”
    She added that she was “not saying that children should not learn their tables” but rather cautioning against “pressing times tables onto children in a way that we don’t particularly think is necessarily helpful, and then saying that schools are failing because they are not necessarily doing the test…”
    In other words, chanting tables might not necessarily be the best way of learning tables and testing on factual recall doesn’t necessarily show understanding – the test is just another measure to beat schools up about.

  5. Cameron’s speech covered more than the couple of items (tables and Tiger Mums) mentioned by the DT.  I discussed the education aspects more fully here: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/01/work-experience-is-transformative-says-pm-so-why-did-he-allow-gove-to-make-it-non-mandatory/#comment-358490

  6. BehaviourA

    You are dismissing the life chances of children with poor working memories and executive function difficulties if you insist success is measured on being able to recall unnecessary facts. A good memory is only one measure. Problem solving skills, creativity, motivation and perseverance more important I suggest.

  7. tony49

    SchoolsImprove dogs bite, wasps sting, Tories say and do spiteful,illogical and stupid things, because it is in the nature of the beast.

  8. TW

    Is Dave of capable of anything more intellectually challenging than looking things up on his mobile?  #PoserFromPrivateSchool

  9. PrincesBold

    SchoolsImprove Concentrating all a governments efforts on an unproven academy conversion programe IS dismissing life chances for children.

  10. JamesVWoodcock

    SchoolsImprove NickyMorgan01 If govt really wants to promote the power of knowledge then protect HEI-school ITT p’ships #camhistmentors

  11. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove David Cameron’s comments education are muffled due to the fact that he always makes them whilst wearing trousers. #idiot

  12. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove That’s ALL maths is after all: times tables. End. Can’t believe maths teacher make such a meal of it. Easy

  13. Dai_James1942

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Politicians need schools to park children of electorate in, so that they are off the dole.

  14. amirshah316

    SchoolsImprove I agree we need to encourage and promote young people not giving up on school. Education must be beneficial!

  15. gordon_brough

    SchoolsImprove What is the impact of knowing tables? A lot of opinions but no facts. I promote thinking skills in my classroom #fact

Let us know what you think...