Academic Year 2021/22

Multiplication tables check attainment

This is the latest dataOfficial statistics
Published

Introduction

This publication provides statistics on the attainment of pupils in the 2022 multiplication tables check. 

It includes statistics for pupils in schools in England:

  • at national level, broken down by the following pupil characteristics: gender, disadvantage, free school meal eligibility, ethnicity, special educational need status, first language and month of birth;
  • at national level, broken down by the following school characteristics: school type, school phase and school religious character;
  • at regional and local authority level, broken down by gender.

Pupils take the multiplication tables check at the end of year 4, typically aged 9. 

All gaps and percentage point differences are calculated from unrounded figures.


Headline facts and figures - 2021/22

These statistics cover the attainment of year 4 pupils who took the multiplication tables check in summer 2022. This is the first publication of multiplication tables check statistics after the assessment became statutory in the academic year 2021/22.

Of pupils who took the check, the mean average score was 19.8 out of 25.

The most common score in the check was 25 (full marks), with 27% of pupils achieving this score.

Disadvantaged pupils performed less well in the check than other pupils. Of pupils who took the check, the average score for disadvantaged pupils was 17.9, while the average score for pupils not known to be disadvantaged was 20.5. 

Pupils with a first language of English performed less well in the check than pupils with a first language other than English. Of pupils who took the check, the average score for pupils with a first language of English was 19.4 while the average score for pupils with a first language other than English was 21.2. 

London was the highest performing region, with an average score of 20.9. In other regions, the average score ranged from 19.1 in the South West to 19.9 in the North West and the West Midlands.

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About the multiplication tables check

This is the first publication of these statistics as the multiplication tables check assessment became statutory for all year 4 pupils registered at state-funded maintained schools, special schools or academies (including free schools) in England in 2022.

The Department introduced the multiplication tables check to determine whether year 4 pupils can fluently recall their times tables up to 12 x 12. The national curriculum says that by the end of year 4, pupils should have memorised their multiplication tables up to and including the 12 multiplication table and show precision and fluency in their work.

The Department introduced the check because, as well as being important for everyday life, knowledge of times tables helps children to solve problems accurately and flexibly, and allows them to tackle more complex mathematics later on in school. The check is designed to help schools identify pupils who are not yet able to fluently recall their times tables, so that additional support can be provided. Results are reported to schools as a total score out of 25 for all pupils that took the check.

There is no expected standard in the multiplication tables check, but higher scores indicate greater proficiency in fluently recalling multiplication tables.

The multiplication tables check is delivered as an online assessment; there are multiple, equivalent forms and each pupil is randomly assigned one. Each form consists of 25 questions worth one mark each and pupils have 6 seconds to enter a response to the question. Questions are selected from the 121 items that make up the 2 to 12 multiplication tables. A breadth of questions are included in each check, with an emphasis on the 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 multiplication tables because these have been determined to be the most difficult.

All year 4 pupils should be registered for the check, including pupils who do not participate. If the headteacher decides a pupil should not take the check, they must record the reason. Pupils should not take the check if: 

  • they are absent during the entire 3-week check window
  • they are unable to participate, even when using access arrangements
  • they are unable to answer the easiest questions or are working below the national curriculum expectation for year 2 in multiplication tables
  • they have just arrived in school during the check period and there is not enough time to establish the pupil’s abilities—for example, pupils with English as an additional language (EAL)

National attainment in the multiplication tables check

Attainment in the multiplication tables check

Of eligible year 4 pupils, 96% took the check. Among the 4% of pupils who did not take the check, most of these pupils were working below the level of the assessment and were recorded as having special educational needs.

Of pupils who took the check, the mean average score was 19.8 out of 25.

Higher scores in the check indicate greater proficiency in fluently recalling multiplication tables. The most common mark in the check was 25 (full marks), with 27% of eligible pupils achieving this score. The chart below shows the full distribution of scores.

Number and percentage of pupils taking the check and reasons for not taking the check
 Number of pupilsPercentage of eligible pupils (%)
Took check​625,83195.9
Did not take check​26,6924.1
  Working below level of assessment​16,6822.6​
  Absence​3,7240.6​
  No reason provided​2,9730.5​
  Unable to participate​2,8050.4​
  Just arrived​5080.1​
Total652,523-

Attainment by pupil characteristics

This section looks at attainment in the multiplication tables check by gender, disadvantage, special educational need (SEN) provision, first language, ethnicity and month of birth. Further information is available via the table tool and data files, including attainment by free school meal eligibility and SEN primary type of need.

Attainment by gender

Of eligible pupils in year 4, a slightly larger proportion of girls took the check than boys (97% and 95% respectively). This was due to a larger proportion of boys being recorded as not taking the check due to working below the level of the assessment.

Boys performed slightly better than girls in the check, even when factoring in the difference in the proportion of pupils taking the check, however the difference is relatively small. Of pupils who took the check, the average score for girls was 19.6 while the average score for boys was 20.0. 

The most common score in the check was 25 (full marks) for both boys and girls. The percentage of eligible pupils who achieved this score was 25% for girls and 28% for boys. 

This pattern is similar to both key stage 1 (year 2) and key stage 2 (year 6) attainment in 2022, where a larger proportion of boys met the expected standard in maths than girls, although the differences are relatively small. In contrast, girls outperform boys in reading and writing at key stage 1 and key stage 2 and the phonics screening check by a large margin. 

Attainment by disadvantage status

A smaller proportion of disadvantaged pupils took the check than other pupils (93% and 97% respectively). This was mainly due to a larger proportion of disadvantaged pupils being recorded as not taking the check due to working below the level of the assessment.

Disadvantaged pupils performed less well in the check than other pupils. Of pupils who took the check, the average score for disadvantaged pupils was 17.9, while the average score for other pupils was 20.5. 

The most common score in the check was 25 (full marks) for disadvantaged pupils and other pupils. The percentage of eligible pupils who achieved this score was 18% for disadvantaged pupils and 30% for other pupils. 

This pattern is similar to key stage 1 and key stage 2 attainment in 2022, where a smaller proportion of disadvantaged pupils met the expected standard in maths than other pupils.

Definition of disadvantage

Disadvantaged pupils are defined as: those who were registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years, children looked after by a local authority or have left local authority care in England and Wales through adoption, a special guardianship order, a residence order or a child arrangements order. 

Attainment by Special Educational Need (SEN) status

A larger proportion of pupils without SEN took the check than those with SEN. 99% of pupils without SEN took the check, compared to 93% of pupils on SEN support and 46% of pupils with an Education, Health and Care plan. This was mainly due to a larger proportion of pupils with SEN, particularly those with Education, Health and Care plans, being recorded as not taking the check due to working below the level of the assessment.

Among pupils on SEN support, achieving full marks was still the most common outcome (11% of pupils on SEN support achieved a score of 25), followed by not taking the check (7% of pupils on SEN support did not take the check).

Among pupils with EHC plans, the most common outcome was not taking the check (54%) followed by achieving full marks (6%).

Attainment by first language 

A similar proportion of pupils with a first language of English and a first language other than English took the check (96%).

Pupils with a first language of English performed less well in the check than pupils with a first language other than English. Of pupils who took the check, the average score for pupils with a first language of English was 19.4 while the average score for pupils with a first language other than English was 21.2. 

The most common score in the check was 25 (full marks) for both pupils with a first language of English and pupils with a first language other than English. The percentage of eligible pupils who achieved this score was 24% for pupils with a first language of English and 36% for pupils with a first language other than English. 

This is similar to key stage 2 attainment in 2022, where a smaller proportion of pupils with a first language of English met the expected standard in maths than pupils with a first language other than English. Key stage 1 attainment in maths in 2022 was similar for both groups.

Attainment by month of birth

A slightly larger proportion of older pupils took the check compared to younger pupils (97% of September-born pupils took the check, compared to 95% of August-born pupils).

Pupils born later in the academic year (younger pupils) performed less well in the check compared to pupils earlier in the academic year. Of pupils who took the check, the average score for August-born pupils was 19.0 while the average score for September-born pupils was 20.6. 

The most common score in the check was 25 (full marks) for pupils of all birth months. The percentage of eligible pupils who achieved full marks (25) was 23% for August-born pupils and 31% for September-born pupils. 

This is similar to key stage 1 and key stage 2 maths attainment in 2022, where pupils born in September were the highest performing group and pupils born in August were the lowest performing group.

Attainment by ethnicity

A smaller proportion of Traveller of Irish heritage pupils (77%) and Gypsy/Roma pupils (82%) took the check than other ethnic groups (between 95% and 98%). This was due to a larger proportion of these pupils being recorded as not taking the check due to working below the level of the assessment.

Of pupils who took the check, Chinese pupils were the highest achieving group in the check with an average score of 23.5, followed by Indian pupils (22.7). Traveller of Irish heritage pupils were the lowest performing group with an average score of 13.2, followed by Gypsy/Roma pupils (13.4).

The percentage of eligible pupils who achieved full marks (25) was highest for Chinese pupils (55%), followed by Indian pupils (47%), and lowest for Traveller of Irish heritage pupils (6%) followed by Gypsy/Roma pupils (8%). Of pupils who took the check, this was the most common score for all ethnic groups.

This is similar to key stage 1 and key stage 2 maths attainment in 2022, where Chinese pupils and Indian pupils were the highest two performing groups, and Gypsy/Roma pupils and Traveller of Irish heritage pupils were the lowest two performing groups.

Attainment by school characteristics

Attainment by school type

This section looks at attainment in the multiplication tables check by school type. Further information is available via the table tool and data files, including attainment by phase and school religious character.

The following types of school are required to administer the multiplication tables check:

  • Maintained schools, including maintained special schools
  • Academies and free schools, including alternative provision and special school academies and free schools
  • Ministry of Defence schools

It is recommended that pupils who attend a pupil referral unit (PRU) and are not on the register of a maintained school or academy take the MTC however they are not required to do so. Non-maintained special schools may take part in the MTC however they are not required to do so.

Overseas schools (that are not Ministry of Defence schools) and independent schools cannot participate in the multiplication tables check. Pupils who are electively home-educated also cannot participate in the check.

There were 15,657 state-funded mainstream primary schools with multiplication tables check results in 2022. 

The average score in mainstream academies and free schools as a group is similar to those in local authority maintained mainstream schools.

Among academies, converter academies had a broadly similar average score as all state-funded mainstream schools. The average score for sponsored academies is below the average score for state-funded mainstream schools.

This follows a similar pattern to attainment in key stage 1 and key stage 2 maths by school type.

Attainment by region and local authority

This section looks at attainment in the multiplication tables check by region and local authority. Further information is available via the table tool and data files, including attainment by pupil characteristics.

Attainment by region

London was the highest performing region in 2022, with an average score of 20.9. In other regions, the average score ranged from 19.1 in the South West to 19.9 in the North West and the West Midlands. The most common score was 25 in all regions.

London was also the highest performing region in key stage 1 and key stage 2 maths attainment in 2022.

Attainment by local authority

The map below shows the average score in the multiplication tables check by local authority. This map shows a complex picture of attainment across England, with a range of higher and lower attainment in different areas.

The average score in the multiplication tables check was highest in Hammersmith and Fulham (22.0) and Harrow (21.9), and lowest in the Isle of Wight (18.0), Norfolk (18.2) and City of Kingston upon Hull (18.2).

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Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

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