Schools Minister Nick Gibb was warned there is room for improvement after he failed to answer a simple maths question live on air.
Gibb was trumpeting new Government plans for more times tables tests for eight and nine-year-olds when he spoke to several broadcasters on Wednesday.
The Tory MP was asked to answer a multiplication problem by presenters on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, LBC, Talk Radio and Sky News, but declined.
Asked what eight times nine is, he told GMB: “I’m not going to get into this, I’ve learned through bitter experience never to answer these kinds of questions on live television.
“I’m very tempted to but I’m not going to.”
Gibb was then challenged on why young children should have to do something he was not comfortable with.
The minister said: “No eight-year-old or nine-year-old would be doing it on live television, and the results of the check won’t affect those children.”
Sky, Talk Radio and LBC put the minister in a similar position, but each time Gibb refused to be drawn.
The Department for Education will trial the test later this year and introduce them everywhere over the next two years.
The move has divided opinion. Supporters say more scrutiny will ensure all children know their tables off by heart, while opponents have sounded the alarm about putting children under more strain. r
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) described the move as “hugely disappointing”.
It is understood that around 290 primaries in England, around 7,250 pupils, are expected to take part in the trials.