Times Table Testing Back on the Agenda

The BBC reported yesterday that statutory times table testing is now back on the agenda for schools following Nick Gibb's comments at the Commons Education Select Committee. We commented on this in an earlier blog and it was notable at the time for increasing the stakes in Year 6 (as part of SATs) as well as being mooted as the first computer-based testing. As we noted then:

"This is part of Nicky Morgan's "non-negotiables" that aim to ensure all children have a floor standard in terms of competencies."

Justine Greening then put all new testing on hold (although no news on how the actual trials went), but these look set to go ahead. As we noted back then:

  1. Testing is a fact of education, a fact of life. Once it is routine it becomes easier and is therefore a positive benefit for pupils. We wouldn't agree with testing for the sake of it or where (beyond reasonableness) testing becomes the goal, rather than learning.

  2. Schools have a responsibility to ensure a good education for all pupils. Responsibility without oversight leads to abuses in the system - this is one potential solution to ensuring delivery of non-negotiables.

But that's where the rub is for many teachers - they don't know what their kids don't know. And our original work reporting the hardest times table question showed just how poor times table knowledge can be - for schools using Number.fy, this won't be an issue but expect some suprise when the initial league tables are produced.