Schools wanted for times tables check trials

Schools with significant numbers of SEND pupils sought to help assess the access arrangements for times tables check

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Schools with significant numbers of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being asked to volunteer to trial the accessibility of the new times tables check, the government announced today.

Schools with intermittent broadband access are also being sought to check the controversial online multiplication tables test, which will be taken by pupils in Year 4 and is due to become statutory in 2020.

The government has already conducted a series of trials in selected schools. The results of these trials are now being used to create different versions of the check (the questions pupils will answer), determine the timing of questions and ensure the system records data accurately, the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) said today.

The STA said that an assessment framework for the MTC (multiplication tables check) will be published during the 2018-19 academic year.

Opposition to times tables check

Schools will have a three-week window to administer the check, with teachers having the flexibility to administer the check to individual pupils, groups or the whole class.

The STA added that although the trial series is complete, it is continuing research with schools, staff and pupils to make the check as accessible as possible.

It is now particularly interested in hearing from schools that have: significant numbers of pupils with SEND, staff involved in administering the tests who may have IT accessibility needs – such as using magnifiers to read – and schools with broadband concerns.

It is understood that around 290 schools and around 7,250 pupils were selected to participate in the trials in March 2018.

The trials have been criticised by the NAHT heads' union. Nick Brook, the union’s deputy general secretary, told Tes in February that primary school was already “cluttered with tests and checks” and that the check would not provide any new information for teachers.

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