Child at blackboard
In what must be one of the most bizarre policy announcements since Corbyn became Labour leader, Labour have today attacked the Conservatives for ‘forcing’ children to learn their times tables.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a bloody good thing for children to learn their times tables by the age of 11. It seems to me to be a basic building block for almost everything else in maths.

That includes, of course, long multiplication. It is literally impossible to do long multiplication without times tables, so – like spelling – this is one bit of rote learning that’s indispensable!

I had the advantage of a brilliant education – I ended up doing three A Levels in Maths at what may be the best state school in the country for the subject. It’s contingent on those that did get a great education to make sure every child has the same opportunities.

In 2000, the UK was joint 8th in the world at maths. By 2012, after Labour’s educational mismanagement, we’d fallen to 26th. That is mirrored in science (from 5th to joint 20th) and reading (from 9th to 23rd). A damning indictment.

That’s a problem, because our future depends on maths. Software coding and robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, aviation and space sciences, and just about all the other growth industries of the 21st century will rely on advanced maths skills. To achieve that, you’ve got to get the basics right first.

Sadly, if Labour get back into power, it’s clear they’d restart the UK’s plummet down the world league tables and sabotage the next generation’s opportunities.