From the speech by Nick Gibb, State Minister for Schools, at the annual meeting of ACME, 10 July 2012:
[T]he draft programme aims to ensure pupils are fluent in the fundamentals. Asking children to select and use appropriate written algorithms and to become fluent in mental arithmetic, underpinned by sound mathematical concepts: whilst also aiming to develop their competency in reasoning and problem solving.
More specifically, it responds to the concerns of teachers and employers by setting higher expectations of children to perform more challenging calculations with fractions, decimals, percentages and larger numbers. [...]
As it stands, the draft programme is very demanding but no more demanding than the curriculum in some high-performing countries. There is a focus on issues such as multiplication tables, long multiplication, long division and fractions.
Last month, the Carnegie Mellon University in the US published research by Robert Siegler that correlated fifth grade pupils’ proficiency in long division, and understanding of fractions, with improved high school attainment in algebra and overall achievement in maths, even after controlling for pupil IQ, parents’ education and income.