Exams

What you need to know about the first times tables test results

Schools minister says maths skills will help pupils calculate mortgage rate increases and find supermarket bargains

Schools minister says maths skills will help pupils calculate mortgage rate increases and find supermarket bargains

More than a quarter of year 4 pupils scored full marks in the first year of the government’s new times tables test, but there was an average two mark gap between poorer children and their peers. 

The Department for Education has published the results of the first “multiplication tables check”, which became statutory in all state schools last year.

It was introduced to determine whether pupils can “fluently recall” up their 12 times tables by the age of nine. 

The tests are taken online, and pupils have to answer 25 questions with just six seconds for each.

Schools minister Nick Gibb hailed the results, calling maths “vital for doing essential calculations like how a higher base rate will affect your mortgage or working out the best multi-pack bargains in a supermarket”. 

The government has also announced £59.3 million in funding for another year of its maths hubs programme.

Gibb said the funding was “also crucial, as we continue raising the standard of maths teaching across the country and driving towards our target for 90 per cent of children leaving primary school with the expected standard in mathematics and English by 2030”.

Here’s what you need to know…

1. Over a quarter net full marks

The most common mark on the test was full marks – with 27 per cent of pupils achieving this score. 

A further 12 per cent achieved 24 marks, while seven per cent gained 23 marks. 

The average score was 19.8 out of 25. As it’s the first year of results there is nothing to compare this performance to.

Boys tended to do better – with a mean average score of 20 – compared to 19.6 for girls. This is a similar pattern to key stage 1 and 2 SATs results. Girls tend to outperform boys in reading and writing. 

2. …but poorer pupils have lower scores

Disadvantaged children who took the test achieved an average score of 17.9. This compares to 20.5 for their better-off peers – a 2.6-mark gap.

When looking at those achieving top marks, 18 per cent were disadvantaged, compared to 30 per cent who were not. 

times tables test

Pupils whose first language isn’t English outperformed their counterparts with an average score of 21.2 compared to 19.4 for those whose first language is English. 

Chinese pupils were the highest achieving ethnic group with an average score of 23.5 followed by Indian pupils with 22.7. Pupils of Irish Traveller heritage were the lowest-performers with an average score of 13.2. 

3. 16,000 pupils working below level of test

The DfE said pupils should not take the test if they are unable to answer the easiest questions or are working below the national curriculum expectation, or year 2 level, in their times tables.

In total, 95.9 per cent of eligible pupils took the test, which is 625,831 children. But 26,692 did not take the test. 

Of these, 16,682 were working below the level of assessment. Another 3,724 were absent. 

More than half of pupils with an education, health and care plan did not take the check. Six per cent of those who did achieved full marks. 

Seven per cent of disadvantaged students did not take the check, compared to 3 per cent of their wealthier counterparts.

4. London has highest average score

The average score was highest in London at 20.9, with the lowest in the south west at 19.1. The north west and West Midlands average score was 19.9. 

But the most common score was still 25 – full marks – in all regions. 

Broken down by local authority area, the highest average score was achieved in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, at 22 and Harrow, at 21.9. 

The lowest average scores were in the Isle of Wight at 18 and in Norfolk and Kingston upon Hull, at 18.2.

Free schools had the highest average score of 20.9. Sponsored academies ranked lowest with an average score of 19.2. 

5. September babies performed best

The average score was highest for September-born pupils at 20.6, compared to 19 for August babies. 

times tables test

Thirty-one per cent of September pupils gained full marks, compared to 23 per cent of August-born children.

The DfE said this was a similar pattern to key stage 1 and 2 maths SATs results. 

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