How does inTABS™ work?

To acquire behaviour, the student must engage in behaviour…learning by doing.” (B.F. Skinner, psychologist)

stamp kinaesthetic 200x200

inTABS™ ‘brings learning to life’ for instant mastery of the times table that lasts a life-time.

inTABS™ (shortened form of Interactive Tables) is a powerful kinaesthetic or multi-sensory learning system to achieve fast and effective results.

But how does it work [you mean show me the magic, Ed.]?

Interactive Learning

Uniquely, the answers to the equations are concealed which means the learner must interact with the book to reveal the answers. This interactive or kinaesthetic element creates powerful associations between the equations & the answers for memory and instant recall.

It works by using the established principles of Conditioning from psychology: through repeated interactions between the equations and answers, strong associations are formed (Classical Conditioning); which are positively reinforced or ‘rewarded’ when the child gets the answers right (Operant Conditioning).  Thus, the end result is a conditioned or automatic response when the equation alone is presented, i.e. instant recall! Seemingly simple but devastatingly effective.

Moreover, owing to the multi-sensory nature of learning involved (whereby they can visually map, see, touch, do etc.), the deeper level of processing means that not only will it work on gaining instant recall but also on retaining it over time.

In terms of Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development for children (the cornerstone of the Western educational model), the kinaesthetic nature of this book conforms to the Concrete Operational Stage (typically 7-11 years) whereby:

the child is now mature enough to use logical thought or operations (i.e. rules) but can only apply logic to physical objects (hence concrete operational)“.

Kinaesthetic learning is ideal for children (or adults) who benefit most from powerful interactive learning styles as opposed to the traditional rote learning methods used in schools which are not suitable for everyone. In the words of one of the most influential psychologists in the world, B. F. Skinner:

to learn, a student must engage in behaviour, and not just passively receive information.”

Kinaesthetic learning methods have been used with great success in Montessori schools.

Number Patterns

inTABS™ facilitates learning & detection of number patterns & symmetries using the unique shape coded patterns on the most recurring answers on the times table (12,24,36).

For example, ask the child to ‘find all the 12 answers’ on the grid: they will find that not only are all the 12 answers shape coded (hexagon) but also form an interesting ‘arc’ on the grid and the same again for 24(square) and 36(circle). This Facilitates an understanding of the relative relationships between numbers and their symmetries (3 x 4 is the same as 4 x 3 etc) as well as making learning fun, engaging and interesting. This is particularity useful for learners who engage more with patterns to make sense of things.

This can be also be turned into a fun game of ‘finding matching pairs‘ for children to learn symmetry: finding and lifting tabs to the equations that result in the same answer.

Traditional methods Vs.  inTABS™

You may be wondering what’s wrong with the traditional ‘finger tricks‘, ‘chanting the tables‘ or the ‘flash cards‘ methods that are widely used in schools (and in homes) and have been around in one form or another since the Victorian era? The simple answer is that they are not the same as instant recall which is key to not only to mastery of multiplication but to proficiency in maths (division, long multiplication, fractions, percentages, algebra etc). These antiquated methods rely upon tapping into a learned sequential methodology which is too slow: recall should be 2-3 seconds (under 2 seconds is excellent). Moreover, research shows they are largely ineffectual as evidenced by the current situation of Britain being nearly bottom of the developed world for numeracy. This is reinforced by the Ofsted findings that “pupils without instant recall of the multiplication table struggle in maths”.  

Thus, instant recall is cardinal with focus now firmly centred upon this in the new Government mandate: “Every child in Britain will have to know their times tables off by heart by 11″ ahead of “tough” against-the-clock testing on mental recall of times tables in all primary schools with strict accountability to ensure no single child fails this test.

Although it may be a bitter pill to swallow, the simple truth is that if current/pre-existing methods worked, then we wouldn’t have an innumeracy crisis in Britain (costing the economy over £20billion per year) with profoundly devastating outcomes for children’s futures (including twice as likely to be unemployed, general social deprivation and crime), arguably more so than the impact of illiteracy.

The educational gap / inequality will continue to get worse, unless we do something about it. Now.

Computers Vs.  inTABS™

You may now reasonably ask, that’s all very well but my school (or home) has the latest technology/IT, so we’re OK, aren’t we? The short answer is no. Research shows that computers do not improve results in maths and if anything:

[OECD] think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower [maths] results“.


In summary, instant recall (knowing off by heart) of the times table is cardinal to proficiency in maths in the same way mastering the ABC is to literacy. This fundamental has to be ensured to enable progress in maths.  It’s perhaps best summed up in the words of the Ofsted Education Director:

“Without [instant recall] is like sending a plumber out to do a job without knowing how to use a spanner“ (Jean Humphrys, Ofsted’s education director).

Otherwise, the writing is clearly on the wall:

Primary schools which fail to teach times tables by heart are condemning children to a lifetime struggling with numbers, [Ofsted] inspectors have warned.” 

inTABS™ was scientifically, not to mention painstaking and lovingly, developed over 18 months to make a difference in the belief that all children can gain mastery of the times table if they are given the right tools.

In short, with inTABS™: Every Child Counts!

See the magic for yourself

This product has undergone rigorous testing with amazing results but don’t just take our word for it – put it to the test yourself:

posts 600x400 how to measure effectiveness

Ensure  >  Empower >  Enjoy 



Maths more important than IT / Computers

Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results, says OECD

“Making sure all children have a good grasp of …maths is a more effective way to close the gap than “access to hi-tech devices”” (OECD)

  • 5 hours ago

bbc news oecd doubts about positive impact of technology on school learning

The OECD study has raised ”doubts” about the positive impact of technology on school learning

Investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance, says a global study from the OECD.

The think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.

The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.

Tom Bennett, the government’s expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers.

The report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development examines the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests taken in more than 70 countries and tests measuring digital skills.

It says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.


“If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,” said Mr Schleicher.

“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”

Computer use graph

Annual global spending on educational technology in schools has been valued at £17.5bn, by technology analysts Gartner. In the UK, the spending on technology in schools is £900m.

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) says schools have £619m in budgets for ICT, with £95m spent on software and digital content.

But Mr Schleicher says the “impact on student performance is mixed at best”.

The report says:

  • Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
  • Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely
  • The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
  • High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
  • Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills

“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Mr Schleicher.

Andreas Schleicher
Image captionAndreas Schleicher has warned about students copying their homework from the internet

He said making sure all children have a good grasp of reading and maths is a more effective way to close the gap than “access to hi-tech devices”

He warned classroom technology can be a distraction and result in pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the internet.

The study shows “there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students’ performance improved”.

Among the seven countries with the highest level of internet use in school, it found three experienced “significant declines” in reading performance – Australia, New Zealand and Sweden – and three more had results that had “stagnated” – Spain, Norway and Denmark.

The countries and cities with the lowest use of the internet in school – South Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan – are among the top performers in international tests.

The study did not gather a figure for the UK’s internet time in class, but the UK has among the highest levels of computers per pupil.

Computers per students

But Mr Schleicher says the findings of the report should not be used as an “excuse” not to use technology, but as a spur to finding a more effective approach.

He gave the example of digital textbooks which can be updated as an example of how online technology could be better than traditional methods.

Mark Chambers, chief executive of Naace, the body supporting the use of computers in schools, said it was unrealistic to think schools should reduce their use of technology.

“It is endemic in society now, at home young people will be using technology, there’s no way that we should take technology out of schools, schools should be leading not following.”

John Morris
Image captionHead teacher John Morris: “When people say too much money is being spent on technology in school, my response is: ‘Nonsense'”

Computers in UK schools

  • 1.3m desktop computers
  • 840,000 laptops
  • 730,000 tablets (expected to rise to 939,000 next year)
  • 22% are “ineffective”

Source: BESA

Microsoft spokesman Hugh Milward said: “The internet gives any student access to the sum of human knowledge, 3D printing brings advanced manufacturing capabilities to your desktop, and the next FTSE 100 business might just as well be built in a bedroom in Coventry as in the City.”

Head teacher John Morris also strongly rejected the idea.

“We’re preparing our children for jobs that don’t yet exist,” said Mr Morris, head of Ardleigh Green junior school in the London Borough of Havering.

“We’re training them to use technology which hasn’t yet been invented. So how can you possibly divorce technology from industry or from teaching and learning?

“When people say too much money is being spent on technology in school, my response is ‘Nonsense’. What we need is more money, more investment.”

The government’s behaviour expert Tom Bennett said there might have been unrealistic expectations, but the “adoption of technology in the classroom can’t be turned back”.

England’s schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We want all schools to consider the needs of their pupils to determine how technology can complement the foundations of good teaching and a rigorous curriculum, so that every pupil is able to achieve their potential.”


Read full article here


Innumeracy “National Scandal”

The Department for Education said it was a “national scandal” that almost half the adult population have poor numeracy skills


As a report finds that millions of adults have numeracy skills expected of an 11 year old, UK companies, fearful their workers will not spot “rogue figures”, are training employees in basic maths.

UK comapnies are having to train employees in basic maths as a report finds that millions of adults have the maths' skills of an 11 year old. Getty

The National Numeracy charity says that adults are struggling to calculate change and understand their payslips. It calls for the UK to change its attitude to maths so that being bad at maths should no longer be seen as a “badge of honour”.

‘Blights individual’s chances’

Young people with poor numeracy are twice as likely to be excluded from school, we know adults with poor numeracy are twice as likely to be unemployed, said Chris Humphries, chairman of National Numeracy. Poor numeracy “seriously blights” individual’s life chances, he added.

Figures from a Government survey published last year show that 17 million adults in England have basic maths skills that are, at best, the same as an 11-year-olds.

How good is your maths? You can test your maths here by doing the question below, which is the ‘adult numeracy level 1’ for maths, which is similar to GCSE level.

For more tests you can click on this link to one of the exam boards.

The repair bay is 11.8 metres long and 6.2 metres wide. The owner calculates the area as 73.2 square metres. Which calculation gives the closest estimate of the area of the repair bay?
A 11 x 6
B 11 x 7
C 12 x 6
D 12 x 7

To try more questions click on this link.

Politicians, schools and business leaders have talked about improving people’s maths for decades, but more attention has been paid to improving literacy rates, according to Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy. “The perennial problem is that people talk about numeracy and literacy but the focus is on literacy skills because they’re easier to do,” he said.

A YouGov poll of 2,068 adults, commissioned by National Numeracy, reveals that while four in five would feel embarrassed to tell someone they were bad at reading and writing, only 56 per cent would feel embarrassed about admitting their poor maths skills.

The number of UK adults with poor maths skills is a growing problem for employers, who need to train some employees in mental aritmethic, such as working out percentage changes and fractions.

Remedial Maths

James Fothergill, head of education and skills at employers’ group the CBI, told Channel Four Newsthat when it questioned its business members last year around one in five said that they had to teach school leavers remedial maths. “It’s really important that [employees] are helped to apply maths skills and concepts in practical situations, such as being able to work out what a 30 per cent discount is without doing it on the till,” Fothergill said.

Two thirds of businesses surveyed by the CBI said they were concerned about employees’ ability to spot “rogue figures”. The poor numeracy could have serious consequences for businesses because it may potentially increase the risk of errors in accounts or fraud going undetected. The CBI thinks that pupils who don’t get at least a grade C at GCSE should be required to carry on studying maths until they do so.

Graeme Hughes, group director at human resources and corproate affairs at Nationwide Building Society, said that the number of job candidates it interviewed who couldn’t do basic maths had increased slightly in the past few years.

Nationwide works with schools to teach numeracy and help children learn how to manage their money – such as how to avoid getting into debt or to understand different types of interest rate.

‘National Scandal’

Being able to do mental arithmetic isn’t always essential in the workplace, however. One big recuitment company told Channel Four News that employers often value computer skills in employees more than mental arithmetic.

“As there is increasing reliance in many sectors on computers and automated systems, we find that many employers are more concerned that candidates have strong numeracy skills linked to computer packages such as Microsoft Excel, rather than mental arithmetic skills,” said Simon Baddeley, senior regional director at Reed Specialist Recruitment. “We test candidates to see if they possess these skills as it is important for many roles that they have a good understanding of computer databases, can create formulas, possess the basic maths to create and manage databases, and – crucially – spot any errors in automated systems.

John Lewis said that it helps employees improve their maths skills by providing free web-based learning, or paying for half of tution costs at local colleges.

Despite the concerns over the numeracy of millions of adults, more people are studying maths at UK universities. The number of people accepted to study mathematical and computer sciences at UK universities has increased steadily over the past five years – from 24,722 in 2006 to 33,407 in 2011, according to figures from Ucas.

The Department for Education said it was a “national scandal” that almost half the adult population have poor numeracy skills. It said it wanted the vast majority of young people to continue to study maths up to 18 within a decade to meet the growing demand for employees with high-level and intermediate maths skills.

“We are undertaking a root and branch review of how maths is taught in schools, attracting the best maths graduates into the profession, strengthening training through our network of specialist teaching schools and we are overhauling GCSEs and A-levels to make sure they are robust and in line with the best education systems in the world,” the DfE said in a statement.

(Article source: Channel 4)

Read full article here

“Nation of maths dunces”

Nation of maths dunces: 17 million adults would fail tests set for primary schoolchildren

Seventeen million adults – nearly half the working population – have the maths skills of a child at primary school, a report revealed yesterday.

Their grasp of numbers is so poor that they struggle to work out deductions on their pay slips or calculate change.

The number who struggle with basic numeracy has grown by two million over the past decade, even though billions of pounds has been poured into schemes to improve standards.


How would you score in the numeracy test?

How would you score in the numeracy test?

The scale of poor numeracy far exceeds the equivalent figure for poor literacy, which is now five million.

The report, released by a new charity, National Numeracy, found that 49 per cent of working-age adults in England are so bad at maths that they have no more than the skills expected of a nine to 11-year-old and would struggle with graphs and charts.

About half of these adults – a quarter of the working population – have only the abilities expected of a seven to nine-year-old and might struggle to pay household bills.

Launching the report, National Numeracy said school-leavers who have failed to master basic maths are more likely to end up jobless, in prison or pregnant at a young age.

The charity said Britain’s low numeracy levels, which place us 17th in a global league of 30 nations, are partly due to decades of neglect of maths in schools. But it also blamed a prevalent attitude that it is a ‘badge of honour’ to be bad at the subject and to have a ‘can’t do it’ attitude.

Support: Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley is fronting a campaign for adults to brush up on their maths skills

Support: Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley is fronting a campaign for adults to brush up on their maths skills

Chris Humphries, chairman of National Numeracy and former chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), said:

‘Official Government figures quote that 17million people have maths capabilities, at best, of the age of an 11-year-old.

‘And actually half of that group’s capacity tends to operate down around the level of a nine-year-old.

‘That’s a scary figure, because it means that they often can’t understand deductions on their payslip.

‘They have problems with timetables, they are certainly going to have problems with tax and even with interpreting graphs and charts that are necessary for their jobs.

‘The truth is that numeracy has been hidden behind literacy.

‘We’ve made excellent progress in literacy. The investment in basic skills has demonstrated that good quality programmes, good quality teachers, proper PR and publicity and a real attention to drawing adults in can make a big improvement.’

Mr Humphries lamented that maths had been ‘downgraded’ in the UK, particularly from the 1970s onwards.

‘The history of attitudes and concerns about mathematics in the UK, and particularly in England, dates back 40 years,’ he said. ‘We’re quite realistic, we don’t expect to transform this particular issue overnight.’

He said there was no ‘straight answer’ to the question of why Britain had a poor attitude to maths, but included a ‘stronger focus that we have had in this country since the [Second World] War on the arts and humanities and social science’.

Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy, said: ‘We want to challenge this “I can’t do maths” attitude that is prevalent in the UK.

‘It’s often a boast or a badge of honour, and that’s across the whole of the social spectrum.

‘A huge part of the message is breaking down this view that’s held in this country that maths is a “can do, can’t do” thing, that it’s genetic, “I can’t do it, my mum couldn’t do it” and that kind of thing.

‘There’s absolutely no evidence for that.’

A poll for the group found that 80 per cent of adults questioned would be embarrassed to say they could not read or write properly, yet only 56 per cent would be ashamed of admitting they were bad at maths.

It has been found that many adults lack the maths skills expected of a nine-year-old

It has been found that many adults lack the maths skills expected of a nine-year-old (Posed by model)

The new organisation, whose founding sponsors alongside Nationwide Building Society include the Rayne Foundation, Oxford University Press and John Lyon’s Charity, is the first dedicated solely to boosting numeracy skills. It is backed by Rachel Riley, the mathematician on Channel Four’s Countdown.

Endorsing the charity’s aims, BT chairman Sir Mike Rake said: ‘Poor numeracy is the hidden problem that blights the UK economy and ruins individuals’ chances in life.

‘It’s so often overshadowed by concerns about literacy, and yet there is evidence to suggest that numeracy may be an even clearer indicator of economic and personal success.’

(Article source: Daily Mail)

Read full article here

Poor Numeracy: more than twice as likely to be unemployed


“People with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed”


Innumeracy costs the UK £20.2 Billion per year; 17 million adults (nearly half of the adult population) have numeracy at/below primary school level.

There is substantial evidence that low numeracy skills are associated with poor outcomes:

  • Employment
    People with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed
  • Wages
    Recent data by the OECD show a direct relationship between wage distribution and numeracy skills
  • Health
    In OECD and UK basic skills reports, the correlation between poor numeracy and poor health is clear; data from the British Cohort Studies have shown that there is also a link between depression and poor numeracy
  • Social, emotional and behavioural difficulties
    Children with these problems are more likely to struggle with numeracy, even taking into account factors such as home background and general ability
  • School exclusions
    Pupils beginning secondary school with very low numeracy skills but good literacy skills have an exclusion rate twice that of pupils starting secondary school with good numeracy skills
  • Truancy
    14-year-olds who have poor maths skills at 11 are more than twice as likely to play truant
  • Crime
    A quarter of young people in custody have a numeracy level below that expected of a 7-year-old, and 65% of adult prisoners have numeracy skills at or below the level expected of an 11-year-old.

Poor numeracy is also a problem in its own right. It can affect people’s confidence and self-esteem. Research from a review of adult up-skilling in numeracy by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has demonstrated that improving numeracy directly contributes to growth in personal and social confidence

The digital age

The digital age presents us with more numerical data than ever before and puts a new premium on numeracy skills.

Computers can do the mathematical processing for us, but we need good numeracy in order to use them effectively – to enter the right data and decide whether the answer seems approximately right.

Right now around 90% of new graduate jobs require a high level of digital skills (Race Online 2012), and digital skills are built on numeracy.

(Article source: National Numeracy)


“Good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.” (OECD)


Read the full article here



Instant recall of the 12 times table is key to numeracy

Instant recall of the 12 times table is key to numeracy

The Telegraph - Millions of adults have maths skills of a nine year-old

What is 9×8?  …….   7×8?  ……. 12×12?

If you or your child struggles with instant recall of the multiplication table, then you are not alone. Millions of us struggle with numeracy:

“17 Million adults in England have numeracy skills at/below primary school level” (, 2011)

This article will examine research findings that show the key to numeracy is knowing the multiplication table off by heart (i.e. achieving instant recall of the times tables) and how dyslexia, dyscalculia and SEN children can effectively master this through kinaesthetic learning thanks to the ground-breaking work done by an Oxford University trained research psychologist.


Is numeracy important?

Surely, you can get by in life without numeracy just as easily?

Research shows that being innumerate or innumeracy, which is defined as ‘unfamiliar with mathematical concepts and methods; unable to use mathematics; not numerate’, has devastating outcomes for children in terms of general long-term social deprivation, poor education (more than twice as likely to be excluded & play truant), unemployment (more than twice as likely to be unemployed), crime (65% of prisoners have numeracy below primary school levels), poor health, higher mortality and mental health issues. In short, innumeracy is a critical factor in poverty and social inequality: the associated costs to UK economy are over £20 billion per year (source: National Numeracy).


Root causes of innumeracy

A9TK0R person doing basic maths on chalkboard

It seems that we have to make sure we get the fundamentals right first and foremost and at an early age.

Research shows that the key to numeracy is mastery of the multiplication or times table given it is cardinal to progression in maths (for division, long multiplication, algebra, fractions etc.):

“pupils without instant recall of multiplication tables struggle in maths” (Ofsted, 2011)

“Many low-attaining secondary pupils struggle with instant recall of tables”  (Ofsted, 2011)

In fact, the study by Ofsted, the schools watchdog found that many primary schools fail to teach the times tables properly (Ofsted, 2011).

All rather worrying and may go some way to explaining why Britain has sunk to near bottom of the developed world for numeracy (OECD, 2013)


Change in education law

BBC news - Nicky Morgan - All children in England will be expected to know up to their 12 times table when they leave primary school, the government has announced - War On Innumeracy

This is why the British Government have just declared a ‘War on Innumeracy’ with the new mandate:

“Every child in Britain will have to know their times tables off by heart by 11” ahead of tough new testing on this starting next year (Department for Education, 2015)

So knowing off by heart the multiplication table (i.e. achieving instant recall) is absolutely crucial and evidently the difference between maths success and failure.


What about children with Dyslexia / Dyscalculia?

Mastering the times table presents a bigger challenge for children who have dyslexia and/or dyscalculia (from Greek/Latin to mean ‘counting badly’) – why?

Firstly, deciphering numbers is subject to the same conditions as letters for dyslexics but the provision of coloured overlays is concentrated on literacy which means numbers are mostly overlooked although, arguably, numeracy has a more profound impact on outcomes.

Secondly, dyslexia and dyscalculia are overlapping conditions in the majority of cases (50-60% of dyslexics have dyscalculia) whilst others have dyscalculia alone.

Developmental Dyscalculia is defined by the APA (2013) as a ‘specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing accurate and fluent calculations’ with prevalence at c.5% but general “‘mathematical learning difficulties’…are very prevalent and often devastating in their impact on schooling, further and higher education and jobs. Prevalence in the UK is at least 25%.” (

Dyscalculia can itself overlap with ADHD / ADD (

Thus, what help is out there for these and other Special Education Needs (SEN) learners who don’t necessarily thrive from traditional rote learning classroom methods but learn best through kinaesthetic or interactive learning?


An innovative & complete solution

An innovative publication company from Oxford called inTABS™ have developed a “revolutionary” way for all children including SEN (dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD etc) to learn their times tables off by heart in a highly effective yet fun manner.

inTABS™  ( short for ‘interactive tables’) Multiplication book uses special dyslexia friendly font and colours (one of the first in the country to do so), whilst the kinaesthetic or multi-sensory element uses principles of conditioning from Psychology: repeated interactions between equations and answers on the interactive book creates powerful associations for memory and recall.

inTABS™ objective is inclusion: “every child counts” in addressing educational inequality. Their book “brings learning to life“, empowering children of all differing abilities to master the times table quickly and effectively so that they don’t struggle or fall behind in numeracy and thereby ultimately improving their life prospects.


Ensure  >  Empower >  Enjoy 


Government announces ‘War on Innumeracy’

“We will expect every pupil by the age of 11 to know their times tables off by heart” (DfE)

“Apparently head teachers will be sacked should any – yes, any – child fail the new test.”

Nicky Morgan announces 'war on illiteracy and innumeracy'

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan: “If we don’t get it right at primary, then it becomes much harder for children to catch up”

All children in England will be expected to know up to their 12 times table when they leave primary school, the government has announced.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said pupils aged 11 should also know correct punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Labour said the “surest way” to raise standards was to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom.

Mrs Morgan indicated the Conservatives would ring-fence most of the schools budget if they won May’s election.

‘Master the basics’

Under the Conservatives’ plans, pupils would not be made to re-sit planned new tests until they passed, but the school could be subject to measures if they failed.

A school that failed to get every pupil to pass the tests for two years running could be paired with an outstanding school to gain extra support. It could also become part of a teacher swap where heads of departments from good schools take over temporarily.

“We have to be ambitious for our young people. If you don’t get it right at primary, then it becomes much harder for children to catch up at secondary school,” Mrs Morgan told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr show.

Key Stage Two tests already include questions on times tables and long division but pupils are given an overall mark, not for individual sections.

Mrs Morgan plans to make times tables a separate section within the maths test.


Analysis by political correspondent Robin Brant

Nicky Morgan’s undertaking to protect school budgets raises the question of where the axe will fall

Promising to protect spending on schools in England is not a big surprise. The Tories had already pledged to increase it to £53bn this year, and the Lib Dems have already gone further, saying they’d extend it to two to 19-year-olds.

But Nicky Morgan’s nod on TV this morning leads to the inevitable question: where will the next round of cuts come, then? If school spending in England is protected, as well as the NHS and international aid, what will the Conservatives cut further to hit their deficit target?

The generals at the MoD will fear it will be them again – although the evidence on welfare suggests they may want to go further there too.

For the record, Labour has said it plans to get the deficit down “as soon as possible” in the next five years but it is yet to lay out its specific plans for education spending.


In an article for the Sunday Times, Mrs Morgan wrote that she would “launch a war on illiteracy and innumeracy.”

“We will expect every pupil by the age of 11 to know their times tables off by heart, to perform long division and complex multiplication and to be able to read a novel,” she said.

“They should be able to write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar.

“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.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Mrs Morgan was asked about money and appeared to suggest the schools budget for pupils aged five to 16 would be ring-fenced.

“We’re going to have more to say on schools funding very shortly but what I can say is that I am absolutely fighting for the schools budget to be protected,” she said.

Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws said no-one would take the Conservatives seriously until they committed to “protecting the education budget from cradle to college”.

‘Mistakes happen’

Mrs Morgan has set a new target for England to be the best in Europe, and among the top five countries in the world, for English and maths by 2020.

The latest Pisa league table, which ranks the test results of 15-year-olds from 65 countries, puts the UK at 26th for maths and 23rd for reading.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt MP said Labour would reverse the rule change under David Cameron’s government which allowed unqualified teachers into the classroom on a permanent basis.

“This is how we improve the learning and life chances for all children and raise our international position in reading, writing and maths,” he said.


Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said “our children are among the most tested in the world” and “we do not need more of the same”.

“Our schools need to be accountable, but the current system stifles creativity, leads to ‘teaching to the test’ and does not promote sustainable improvements in education,” she said.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) described the new tests as a “gimmick” during the election season.

“Apparently head teachers will be sacked should any – yes, any – child fail the new test. We are all for aiming high but, remember, this is a short test taken by a young child,” he said.

“Mistakes happen, children feel under the weather or have a bad evening beforehand. This does not mean that teachers are not working as hard as possible.”

On the Andrew Marr show, Mrs Morgan was asked about the Independent on Sunday’s lead story that former education secretary Michael Gove was still receiving paperwork from her department.

She dismissed the report as “complete nonsense” and said Mr Gove, who is now Commons chief whip, had been “nothing but supportive” since she took the job.

“The chief whip is of course going to see paperwork that goes for a number of departments… I know the chief whip has to be across all portfolio areas. But I am very much in charge of the education department,” she said.

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