What’s 9x7 and 6x3? New primary school times tables tests to be trialled by government

Children at school. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Children at school. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Primary school children could be quizzed on their times tables this spring during trials of a new government test.

A child learning at school. (Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A child learning at school. (Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA) - Credit: PA

Education ministers revealed plans to bring back the multiplication checks - which will be taken by eight and nine-year-olds in England - last autumn.

But the Department for Education has said it will now trial the test this spring, ahead of a full roll-out in two years. It is understood that about 290 primaries, and 7,250 pupils, are expected to take part in the trials.

It will be the first time there has been a standardised times tables test for children since at least 1944, when the Education Act was introduced.

While supporters say it will ensure pupils know their sums, critics have raised concern about the educational benefits of the move.

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Scott Lyons, National Education Union (NEU) Norfolk spokesperson, said: 'It's just another example of centralised dictation on what children should be taught.

'Times tables are taught universally, but at what level and what extent is down to the headteacher. This is another example of teaching to test, which can take away some of the enjoyment.'

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Two of the trials are already understood to have taken place, but it is not clear where in the country.

Schools across the country can voluntarily take part in the check next June, and it will become compulsory from 2020.

Scott Lyons. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Scott Lyons. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The test will last a maximum of five minutes.

School standards minister Nick Gibbs said it would help teachers 'identify those pupils who require extra support'.

'This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables off by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential,' he said.

What do people in Norfolk think?

We took to the streets of Norwich to see how people enjoying their lunch in the city coped with their times tables.

While most - including an accountant and a teacher - answered the majority of the quick-fire questions successfully, they were all stumped by a couple of the sums, with 11 x 12 proving particularly tricky.

We then asked people what they thought of the government's plans to introduce standardised times table tests.

Mandy Taylor, 37 and from Attleborough, said: 'I think anything is helpful to gage where people are and encourage development and see where weaknesses are that teachers can develop on.'

Cathy Finch said: 'We all learn our times tables, I did when I was little. I imagine it's a good idea.

'I don't know whether I always agree with the collection of data because children learn at different stages.'

Teacher Andrew McKenzie said 'kids should be kids'.

'For me as a teacher I'm there to nurture pupils and discover who they are,' he said. 'I think constant testing stops that and it's just number crunching.'

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