Multiplication Check and T T Rock Stars

You may have heard announcements about the Multiplication Tables Check coming in for year 4 children. 
 
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.
 
The checks will be compulsory from 2020 and take place within a three-week-long window towards the end of the school 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. 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.  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.
 
Tests in themselves don’t cause anxiety. It’s the perceived cost of not doing well. For that reason, we will actively downplay the checks with the pupils. The only thing that will stress the children is if we repeatedly refer to the checks in class or at home, even casually in front of them when they’re not supposed to be listening.  As far as they’re concerned, when it comes to the day itself, they’re going to have the computers out so it will just seem like we have chosen to do something slightly different today.
 
The children are already used to a very similar format, we have been using Times Tables Rock Stars all year, at school and at home.  Please encourage your child to practise via the website or app.