All 11-year-olds will be tested on their times tables as part of their key stage 2 Sats, education secretary Nicky Morgan announced this week. Multiplication skills will be assessed to boost ministers’ “war on innumeracy”. Pupils will be expected to know all tables up to 12x12, and will be tested using an “on-screen check”. It will be piloted by 3,000 students in 80 schools this summer and introduced to all English primaries in 2017. Ms Morgan warned that schools would be held accountable for their results (see page 18).
Primary pupils will help to plant thousands of trees as part of a new government-backed scheme. The first phase of the project, which will provide up to 45,000 native British trees for schools, has been launched at Elmhurst Primary in East London. The programme, which aims to increase understanding of nature, will also support the new national curriculum to ensure pupils can identify iconic native trees. It will initially be open to 7,000 state-funded primary schools in England, which will receive trees including cherry, silver birch and hazel. For more information, visit bit.ly/SchoolTrees
The chief executive of the country’s largest primary-only academy chain was knighted in the New Year Honours. Steve Lancashire, executive head of Hillyfield Primary Academy in East London, founded Reach2 in 2012. Today it oversees some 50 schools across England. In October, he opened a second chain, Reach4, specialising in all-age schools.
A primary school principal caught up in the so-called Trojan Horse scandal – in which staff with hardline Muslim views allegedly sought to promote Islam over other faiths – has been struck off. Jahangir Akbar, acting principal at Oldknow Academy in Birmingham, has been banned from teaching for at least five years after investigators found that he “failed to uphold public trust in the profession”. He was found to have decreased the diversity of RE for pupils aged 7 to 11 and banned the school from holding Christmas performances or putting up a tree “to focus [more] on teaching and learning”.