Department for Education

Part of Estimates Day – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 3rd July 2018.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 5:19 pm, 3rd July 2018

I will not give way, if my hon. Friend will forgive me.

In 2014, we introduced a more demanding primary curriculum. In the first standard assessment tests, taken in 2016, which reflected that new curriculum, 70% of pupils reached the expected standard in the more demanding maths and arithmetic SATs. A year later, that had risen to 75%. But we want it to go higher still, which is why we are spending £75 million funding 35 maths hubs across the country, promoting the highly effective south-east Asian maths mastery approach to teaching maths. Our ambition is for half of all primary schools to be trained to use that approach by 2020, and for 11,000 primary and secondary schools to be in that position by 2023.

Next year, we are rolling out a computer-based multiplication tables check for all nine-year-olds, ensuring that every child knows their times tables by heart. What a contrast to the days when teachers were told they must not teach times tables. We are promoting the use of high-quality textbooks in primary schools, undoing the damage from the 1970s, when textbooks in primary schools were consigned to the store cupboard. High-quality, knowledge-rich, carefully sequenced textbooks promote understanding and reduce teacher workload.

In a global trading nation, we need to reverse the decline in the study of foreign languages that began under Labour in 2004. Since 2010, the proportion of 16-year-olds taking a GCSE in a foreign language has increased from 40% to 47%, but our ambition is for 75% to be studying for a GCSE in a foreign language by 2022 and for 90% to be doing so by 2025.

Let me respond to the typically thoughtful speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow, in which he paid tribute to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care for securing a five-year funding settlement. He is right that longer-term visibility is helpful in every sector, and we are committed to securing the right deal for education in the spending review. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for raising this important issue. Our track record gives us much to be proud of, but we will of course continue to listen carefully and take into account the issues raised today and the findings of the Education Committee inquiry. Investing in our young people’s future is one of the most important investments that we can make as a country. As a Government, we are committed to getting it right.