Welcome to Willow!
You may have heard announcements about the Multiplication Tables Check coming in for year 4 children. Here’s what you need to know:
We love maths. It’s an awesome subject to learn and to teach.
Maths is a big subject and we appreciate there’s more to it than times tables and there’s more to times tables than learning them off by heart. However, a lot of the rich, interesting maths is all about the multiplicative relationships and these are hard to fully grasp without fluent recall of the tables. For that reason, learning the tables is fundamental – they are a key facilitator to the maths that sits on top. We’ve always believed that.
We’re in favour of the checks because it’s always good to sharpen practice across the education sector and this is a useful lever to get schools to do that. We’re already in a good place with learning the tables and the expectations are in line with the National Curriculum so it’s business as usual for us.
The checks will not be compulsory until 2020 so current year 3s will be the first cohort to do them when they’re in year 4.
They will be done at some point during the year, most likely within a three-week-long window towards the end of the year.
The results of the test are not published publicly, they’re not going to end up on a league table and they’re not to worry about. There’s no pass or fail, there’s just a score out of 25 marks (or 20). They’re not to be used to compare children, they’re for us to reflect on so that we make the most of our provision. We’re actually looking forward to seeing how well we do.
The checks consist of 25 questions (possibly only 20, depending on government trials later this year). The questions will only be multiplication and they will go up to 12×12. There’s nothing novel about the questions and they don’t require problem solving so there’s nothing to trip them up.
The checks are all about remembering the multiplication facts. That doesn’t mean we’ll forget all about the concepts, patterns, structures and relationships in multiplication. We’re going to be learning those too, partly because they go hand in hand with excellent recall.
There are concerns shared in the public domain that this is “yet another test”. The government has been careful to call it a “check” and that’s important. It signals their intention to keep it low-stakes and we should remember that the data could prove useful to us.
Given that the questions are relatively simple, age appropriate and the length of the check, which is carried out on a computer, is under 5 minutes, we don’t think the checks are onerous.
You may notice us taking even more initiative when it comes to learning the tables with more options for home learning. If you are practising with your child, remember you’re practising for the benefit of their wider maths education, not for them to get a high score on the tests. So please enjoy the opportunity to work with your child and remember to hold back on comments about the checks.
If you have a question or want to offer your thoughts on any of the above, please bring them to your child’s teacher.
Alice Earles- Willow Class Teacher