We all know that our times tables are a vital skill in life. They are used to calculate multiplication and division facts as well as understanding ratio, proportion, and fractions. I know that both schools and parents spend a lot of time teaching and reinforcing children’s knowledge of times tables. However, off the back of the Governments view that reading has improved since the phonics assessment was introduced in 2012, the planned times table test is hoped to raise Maths standards. Originally children in Year 6 should have taken the test alongside their SATs. However, parents, teachers and unions protested that our already over assessed children would find this too demanding. In 2019 the Government announced that it will now be Year 4 children who will undertake the new assessment. This week further announcements were made regarding the timing and format of the test.
What do we know so far?
This new test should have started in June 2020; although with Covid this was delayed, and it will now start in June 2023 – This means the current Year 4 children will be tested this year.
The test will commence the week beginning Monday 5th June 2023. Children will undertake this using a computer, laptop or tablet and it will only take five minutes to complete.
They will be presented with a multiplication statement, and it is believed that division facts will not be tested.
Schools will have three weeks in June to administer the test. The whole class or year group does not need to be tested together or on a set day. Children will also have some practice questions to help them prepare for the format. Although, it is up to schools and parents to prepare children for the speed of the test.
There is a question bank of just over 100 questions from the 2 – 12 times tables. Although there will be an emphasis on 6, 7, 8, 9 and the 12 times tables as these tables are deemed to be more difficult. Each test will comprise of a total of 25 questions.
The children must be able to read, recall and enter their response within 6 seconds – Therefore, rapid recall of their times tables is essential. There will be no time to work them out.
The questions will come randomly, and children need to read the questions themselves. It is important children do not just learn their times tables through chanting, but out of order.
After the 6 seconds the question will disappear and if they have not completed the question, it will still be counted. For example, if the question was 6 x 4 and the child only wrote 2 in the time allowed (and not the 24), then this would count as an incorrect answer.
Passing The Test
Unlike the phonics screening test there is currently not a pass mark and children are not expected to repeat the test again in Year 5. The Testing Agency will send the results to the school. The school should then plan targeted intervention to help children move forward. Some schools may give the results to parents whilst others may not.
The marks will be used to judge which children need additional times table and maths support. They are intended to check that children across the country are making expected progress in relation to the National Curriculum, especially as times tables are a fundamental element of many mathematical concepts which will be covered both in Primary and Secondary schools.
How To Help Your Child
Check your child knows their time tables in and out of order. Start with the 2 times tables and work your way through. Once children are confident, use question cards to mix up the questions and check speed. Lastly make them record their answers – try and decrease the time as they become more confident. This can be writing them on paper or a whiteboard, however, as it will be tested via a computer get the children used to typing at pace. Finding the numbers can be as much of a challenge as knowing the answer – especially under pressure.