The big news for schools last week was the axing of statutory SATs in Year 2 (age 7) which have proved devisive and a replacement with baseline testing in Reception (age 5). Performance metrics are designed to measure achievement at any one point in time, but achievement is a coarse metric and in terms of determining the "quality of education", improvement over time (progress) goes hand-in-hand. As a result, there must be a baseline at some point. It will be interesting to see whast this is and how meaningful it will be.
However, the interesting news was the confirmation of times table testing from 2018/19 (next year) - for year 4 (age 9) children (something Nick Gibb had noted earlier this year). Yes, year 4. From our experience and data, we know that those children that don't regularly practise their times tables have poor number fact knowledge. In fact, many children who leave Primary School at age 11 don't have confident number fact knowledge, yet the National Curriculum specified times table knolwedge upto 12x by year 4 (age 9) - testing will now take place at that point.
Using traditional techniques, times table knowledge takes several years to acquire - our whitepaper "Learning Number Facts" outlines best practise - time that many schools don't have before testing begins. As a reminder, that means current year 3 children are expected to know all 12x tables by the end of the next school year.
Watch this space as we wait for confirmation of the testing and the form it will take.