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  1. National

Tories 'to protect schools budget' if party wins election

The Conservatives will protect the schools budget if the party wins the next General Election, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has indicated.

Ms Morgan said she is "absolutely fighting for the schools budget to be protected", hinting that she had already won the battle.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan speaks to Andrew Marr. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

Asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show whether the schools budget will be protected, Morgan said: "We're going to have more to say on schools funding very shortly but what I can say is that I am absolutely fighting for the schools budget to be protected."

"It goes back to the point, the announcement that we're making today, which is actually about getting the basics right really early on and that's why the investment is in the schools budget."

  1. National

Education Secretary: Pupils must recite tables by 11

All schoolchildren in England will be forced to learn their times tables off by heart as well as carry out long division and complex multiplication by the age of 11, the Education Secretary has announced.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan wants primary school pupils to face tough tests on maths and English. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA

Pupils will be expected to pass tough tests before leaving primary school as part of a "war on illiteracy and innumeracy", Nicky Morgan said.

Headteachers who fail to ensure the standards are met face being sacked if the Conservatives are returned to power, she indicated.

As well as demonstrating mathematical skills, pupils will have to pass a writing test by showing they can use "accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar".

In an article for The Sunday Times (£), Ms Morgan outlined plans to make England top of the class in European league tables for English and maths by 2020, as well as in the top five internationally - a significant leap from the current ranking of 23rd.

She said: "We will expect every pupil by the age of 11 to know their times tables off by heart, to perform long division and complex multiplication and to be able to read a novel.

"They should be able to write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar. The new tests for 11 year olds we are introducing next year will be strengthened to ensure that every young person is meeting the mark."

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School closures in Staffordshire

Whiston in Staffordshire Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The following schools will be shut in Staffordshire today due to snow and ice.

  • Ball Green Primary
  • Bentilee Nursery
  • Birches Head High
  • Discovery Academy
  • Goldenhill Primary School
  • Grange Nursery School
  • Grove Hamilton Infants
  • Hillside Primary School
  • Kingsland Nursery School
  • Kingsland Primary School
  • Maple Court Primary Academy
  • Northwood Broom Community School
  • Ormiston Horizon Academy
  • Sandon High School
  • Sandon Primary School
  • St Margaret Ward Academy
  • St Marks Primary School
  • St Peter's Primary Academy School
  • Wetley Rocks
  • Loxley Hall School
  • University Academy Kidsgrove

School closures in Leicestershire

Bradgate Park in Newtown Linford Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The following schools in Leicestershire will be shut today due to snow and ice.

  • Marriott Primary School
  • Ashby School
  • Castle Rock High School, Coalville
  • Forest Way (Special) School, Coalville
  • King Edward VII Science and Sport College, Coalville
  • Mercenfeld Primary School, Markfield
  • South Charnwood High School
  • Thornton Primary School
  • Warren Hills Community Primary School, Coalville

School closures in Derbyshire

A snow covered lane in Sparrowpitt, Derbyshire Credit: Mike Egerton/PA

Derbyshire County Council say the following schools have shut their doors due to snow and ice.

  • Hope Primary School
  • Barlow CE Primary School
  • Anthony Gell School
  • Monyash Primary School
  • Chapel-en-le-Frith C E Primary School
  • Poolsbrook Primary School
  • Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School
  • Hilltop Infant and Nursery School
  • Grindleford Primary School
  • Lady Manners School
  • Brookfield Primary School
  • Pinxton Kirkstead Junior School
  • Parkside Community Junior School
  • Alfreton Park Community Special School
  • Aldercar Community Language College
  • Chinley Primary School
  • Furness Vale Primary School
  • Ashgate Croft School
  • Croft Infant School, Alfreton
  • Highfields School, Matlock
  • Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Ashboourne is closed today.
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