Learning Bands: what order to learn times tables?

With the change to the national curriculum for 2014 having an expectation that pupils will know the times tables up to 12x by year 4, schools are faced with demonstrating key knowledge at increasingly younger ages. With Nicky Morgan's recent comments, there is the potential for a maximum age for this knowledge to be secure. For what has become increasingly high stakes teaching it has become vital for staff to develop efficient and effective strategies for number fact learning.

At Flurrish we have seen startling results with significant proportions of year 2 children knowing all 12x tables, however what is the best order to learn the times tables in?

Our earlier work with Caddington Village School identified the hardest times table question - take a look at this image to see where they are. If we know what the hardest times tables are, can we can use this to help define the optimum order in which to learn times tables? Or, to take a contrary view, if each of these number facts are simply rote memorisation, does it matter which order we learn them in? Or is there a combination of the two that will provide the best route? This is a research project that is definitely worth following up with schools using different methods to test learning.

So what are schools doing at the moment? Well in Year 2 at Caddington (with thanks to Richard Kingham) they start with 2s, 5s and 10s and, when they are confident, move on to 3s and 4s. After that the children then tackle the tables they feel confident with. But bear in mind that by using Number.fy it is easy to track which tables children are confident with and which they have problems and so tailor learning to their specific needs. At St Matthews Primary School they have developed "learning bands" (with thanks to Jackie Chidwick) with a very specific order for learning. Click here to see the progression.

Do you have thoughts on the best progression for learning times tables? Please contact us with your comments.