Primary schools are to start times table tests this spring ahead of a national roll-out.
The test will become mandatory from 2020 for all eight- and nine-year-olds. The aim is for them to know their times tables in a bid to boost numeracy among pupils.
Pupils will need a knowledge of all times tables up to 12 to partake in an on-screen test that will take no longer than five minutes.
The aim is to avoid causing stress for teachers and children alike.
Now the Department for Education has reassured teachers that the test results will not be published and will not be used by Ofsted to enforce changes.
Teachers’ leaders are opposed to the new tests
However, teachers’ leaders are opposed to the new tests as SAT tests in English and maths for seven year olds are about to be phased out.
That’s after complaints over the stress for teachers and young children led to a move.
The National Association of Headteachers’ joint general secretary, Nick Brooke, said: “We are working with the government on primary assessment so it is disappointing they are still intending to introduce a multiplication tables test which we oppose.”
The aim of the test was intended originally for those aged 11 and was raised in the 2015 General Election manifesto for the Conservatives.
This followed a revelation that numeracy among pupils in England was falling behind those of youngsters in south-east and east Asia.
‘Help teachers to identify primary school pupils who require support’
The School Standards Minister, Nick Gibb, said: “Multiplication tables tests will help teachers to identify primary school pupils who require extra support.
“This will also ensure that pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables and are able to start secondary school with a grasp of fundamental arithmetic as their foundation for mathematics.”
He added that the test itself will not reveal anything to parents and teachers that they do not already appreciate about the children and while the school results will not be published, the information will be scrutinised by OFSTED for future visits.
Trial will be conducted in 290 primary schools
According to the BBC, the trial will be conducted in 290 primary schools with 7,250 pupils taking part.
The chief executive of National Numeracy, Mike Ellicott, said: “While the test is underpinned with good intentions, we have to be careful that we don’t knock the joy out of a child’s early mathematical experiences or to distract schools from building a child’s understanding of numbers.”
He added: “Knowing your times tables is invaluable and we use them in everyday life but it’s important to have a feel for the numbers and understand the patterns behind times tables so children have the knowledge to use in the real world.”
Mr Ellicott warns that there is a danger that too much emphasis may be placed on tables testing which is effectively rote learning and may become a ‘tick boxing exercise’ that may hinder the development of a child’s understanding of numbers.
Sir Michael Shaw, the former Ofsted chief, said he welcomed the times table trial and said it will ‘make a difference’.