According to the latest guidance issued by the DFE, pupils will only receive marks for using exclamation marks if the sentence starts with ‘What’ or ‘How’.
The guidance suggests “What a lovely day!” or “How exciting!” as acceptable examples.
“A sentence that ends in an exclamation mark, but which does not have one of the grammatical patterns shown above, is not considered to be creditworthy as an exclamation (e.g. exclamatory statements, exclamatory imperatives, exclamatory interrogatives or interjections),” it says.
Nicky Morgan has announced that 11 year olds will be given an online test to check that they know their multiplication tables.
While I think it is essential that children know their times tables, I worry that this will result in more rote learning and testing rather than in a true understanding of mathematics.
Barney Angliss, SEND co-ordinator at Rydens Enterprise School in Surrey, feels they do. He has written to the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, to say the recommendation goes against the Equality Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In the drive to raise standards, the National Curriculum in England has now said that children need to know their times tables to x12 by the end of Year 4 (two years earlier than in the previous National Curriculum). This, not surprisingly, has led to more testing to ensure that children can tell you that 7×8=56 and 6×9=54.
The Mighty Multiples Times Table Challenge
Professor Boaler from Stanford University recently caused a stir by saying that children found times table tests stressful and that they should be banned. This immediately caused a furore of people accusing her being against raising standards in education.
But this is misunderstanding what Prof Boaler’s research has shown (see attached article). She does not say that children shouldn’t learn their times tables. She isn’t saying that they aren’t important and fundamental building block for future study of mathematics.
What Prof Boaler is arguing against are the tests themselves. By over-emphasising times tables tests, we develop in children the wrong attitude towards maths with a “narrow and impoverished” focus on getting the right answers fast.
Prof Boaler continues: “We need to free our young people from the crippling idea that they must not fail, that they cannot mess up, that only some students can be good at maths and that success should be easy and not involve effort.”
Maths is so much more than that, and an essential life skill. Yes, we need to know if children have learned their times tables. But before we start grilling children on their times tables, we need to ensure that they’ve grasped the concept of multiplication (and its relationship to addition and division). They need to be shown concrete and abstract examples of multiplication in a variety of interesting ways. They need to be given opportunities to apply multiplication to real life situations.
That is what I love about The Mighty Multiples Times Table Challenge. It provides a fresh approach to learning times tables and will help all children to feel that they can do maths and – most importantly – that maths is fun.
Here’s an interesting interview with Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Ken argues that it the current emphasis on standardised testing is killing creativity in our schools.
A recent article in Singapore’s Strait Times, says that the Ministry of Education is changing the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) composition paper, to give more scope for creativity. Instead of pupils being asked to write a story on a given picture or scenario, they will be given three pictures offering three different angles of interpretation to guide them in their writing. Pupils will be allowed to choose to write a story based on one, two or all three of the pictures.
It is hoped that this will encourage teachers to allow pupils to be more creative in their writing.
In announcing the new changes, Mr Ong, the Acting Minister for Education, said, ‘If we can produce a Singapore version of J. K. Rowling, the economic spin-off will surely be incalculable.’