Schools minister Nick Gibb refuses to answer maths question on TV as he launches times tables tests

Education

Schools minister Nick Gibb refused to answer questions on his times tables as he launched plans to start trialling a new multiplication test in primary schools from next month.

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that it will trial the check – which will be made compulsory for all eight and nine-year-olds in 2020 – in almost 300 primary schools in England.

Teaching unions and parents have criticised the move saying children are already overtested. 

But when being interviewed about these plans on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Gibb refused to answer Jeremy Kyle when asked for the answer to “eight times nine”.

Mr Gibb replied: “I am not going to get into this. I have learnt through bitter experience never to answer these kind of questions on live television.” 

“I am very tempted to but I am not going to,” the MP added.

Presenter Kate Garraway challenged him and asked: “Why is it so important for an eight-year-old to do it when clearly you feel vulnerable about it and you’re a government minister?”

“No eight-year-old or nine-year-old would be doing it on live television,” Mr Gibb replied. 

The minister has previously faced public embarrassment after getting a grammar question – which he expected 11-year-olds to answer – wrong during a radio show.

Mr Gibb appeared on BBC Radio 4’s World At One in 2016 to argue that more rigorous SATs were important to ensure children were learning to read and write from an early age.

But he stumbled when asked by the presenter to identify whether the word “after” was a preposition or a subordinating conjunction in the sentence: “I went to the cinema after I’d eaten my dinner”. 

The minister insisted it was a preposition despite Martha Kearney saying the correct answer was subordinating conjunction. 

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