WATCH: Schools minister introducing times tables check for 8-year-olds refuses his own times table test on telly

Schools minister Nick Gibb today announced details of the government’s new times tables check at Year 5. Interviewed about these plans on Good Morning Britain, Mr Gibb refused to answer the question, “What’s 8×9?” reports Tes. 

 Watch him squirm  WATCH: Schools minister introducing times tables check for 8-year-olds refuses his own times table test on telly

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Categories: Exams and Primary.


  1. wasateacher

    By refusing to answer, Nick Gibb has demonstrated exactly why children should not be exposed to this sort of testing. In addition, the insistence on spending a long time learning the times table (up to the redundant 12x’s?) takes no account of what is required in order to develop Maths skills. Knowing that 7×8= 56 does not mean that a child understands what that means. At some point in my education (many years ago) I learned “quam quam sunt sub aqua, sunt sub aqua malidicere tentant” – or, at least, that is how I remember it. Haven’t a clue what it means and, oddly, I can remember that whereas I can remember very little of the rest of my school learning. However, because I understand what multiplication is, I don’t need to remember what 7×8 is, as long as I can double and double again and double again, just as I can work out what 7×16 is, or 8×20 or many other ‘sums’. (Google tells me that it should have been “quamquam sunt sub aqua sub aqua maledicere temptant” – not bad for remembering nonsense over about 60 years!!)

  2. Nick Gibb, school standards minister, claims the new test “will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support”. How can he fail to understand that primary school teachers are doing this all the time? Assessing progress is an essential part of teaching. Now teachers, parents and children have something else to worry about in the form of a new government-required test.

    Mr Gibb says “knowing their tables off by heart” will ensure that pupils have “a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential.” If they aim to be accountants, as was Gibb, this may be all the maths they need, but mathematics is much broader than arithmetic number crunching: Wikipedia describes it as embracing “topics such as quantity, structure, space and change”. In different and elementary ways, these all feature in modern primary classrooms. They are not helped by a minister with little understanding of schools or education, but with an urge to exercise his authority!

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