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Education Eight-year-olds to take new ‘unnecessary and expensive’ times tables exam

Teachers' union NEU says the tests will tell teachers nothing new about their students

THOUSANDS of primary school children are to take a new times tables test this spring, ministers will confirm today.

The Department for Education will trial its multiplication check for eight and nine-year-olds in England this spring, ahead of a roll-out over the next two years.

It announced the plans last autumn after a review of primary school assessment.

But the National Education Union (NEU) said yesterday it would oppose the “unnecessary and expensive” exam.

“The test will tell teachers nothing they don’t already know, will disrupt teaching and simply reflects a ministerial obsession with testing children,” NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted said.

“Ministers should support schools working hard to help our children learn by adequately funding schools and ensuring that every school has the teachers it needs.”

It is understood that around 290 primaries in England, with around 7,250 pupils, are expected to take part in the trials. Two trials have already taken place.

Schools across the country can take part in the multiplication check voluntarily in June next year and it will be compulsory from 2020.

The test will last a maximum of five minutes and allow teachers to monitor a child’s progress, the DfE said.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support.

“This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables off by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential.”

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