The Multiplication Tables Check goes live today (England Only)

The Multiplication Tables Check goes live for children in year 4 today, with schools being required to administer it this week or next week (but the following week being allowed if necessary).

My opinions are:

This test is a horrific atrocity from a government that doesn’t consult in any meaningful way on education policy and makes all decisions in its own interests, launching attacks on individuals and organisations and extra horrific policies to distract discussions when anybody raises concerns about anything it’s doing.

I’m not against testing these skills – but a Multiplication Tables Check that was fit for purpose would:

1. Give top credit to children who are fluent with their tables and rapidly sense check less frequently used results (instead of being designed so that children with this skill set fail and only children who automatically recall all results without sense checking them gain credit).

2. Have lower tiers of credit which provide meaningful targets for, and useful information about, children who are not yet flully fluent with their tables.

3. Have been consulted with the education community and connected with research,  meaningful pilot tests and analysis of the impact of these pilot tests. 

If your opinions differ, please do let me know – I’m keen to learn.  

If you’re able to, please do encourage people to sign my petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/608037

I have created a video which explains the points I’ve made above in more detail here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qbnxdM0C7Y

A sample test for you to try is available here: https://www.morethanascore.org.uk/what-we-do/times-tables/

This video by More Than a Score about what this test is like for year 4 children is excellent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKqtubxF9p0

The specification for the test is here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1061969/2018_MTC_assessment_framework_PDFA_updated_for_2022.pdf

Footnote 3 on page 8 explains how the resources that should have been spent on assessing the impact of the test were instead used to ensure the test only gave credit for instant rote recall or results and gave no credit for understanding.

A new test like this would usually have received substantial press coverage when it went to parliament.  But parliament was deliberately bypassed when this new exam was put through parliament as a minor amendment (a process usually fused to confirm a date on policy that has already been debated) to KS2 SATs.  So it was never seen by MPs and never surfaced for any kind of scrutiny when it became statutory.  I’m currently working to address this behaviour in Westminster and would value help from anyone with political contacts. The only press coverage has been by the fabulous Warwick Mansell (who has a child in year 4) and his excellent article is here: https://www.educationuncovered.co.uk/news/155146/no-thinking-allowed-dfes-new-times-tables-test-for-eight-and-nineyearolds-aims-to-stop-them-using-reasoning-to-work-out-answers-.thtml

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