The government has announced plans to have eight- and nine-year-olds sit mandatory times table tests and teaching unions have spoken out in opposition to the decision.
Year 4 pupils across England will have to complete what the Department for Education refers to as a five minute “on-screen check”, which is designed to help ensure they know the multiplication tables up to 12 off by heart.
“The multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support,” schools standards minister Nick Gibb said today [Wednesday 14 February].
“This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of fundamental arithmetic as a foundation for mathematics.”
However, despite the DfE assurances that the test “has been carefully designed to avoid causing additional stress for children and teachers”, three unions representing teachers and education staff – the National Education Union (NEU), NAHT and Voice – have said the test “won’t tell teachers anything they don’t already know” and will put extra pressure on children.