Increasing times tables fluency

Underwood West Academy will evaluate which balance of procedural and conceptual approaches to teaching times tables is most effective in improving scores in a timed times tables test for Year 4 pupils.


It is advantageous for children to be able to recall multiplication facts fluently in order to reduce “cognitive load” (Sweller, 1988) when attempting larger calculations. Many children find recall of times tables facts reasonably easy but many find it difficult to recall them in timed tests or in applying them to wider reasoning problems. There is currently much debate about the best way to teach times tables, including whether a procedural approach (in which pupils practice recall of multiplication facts) or conceptual approach (focusing on understanding the connections and patterns in multiplication facts) is most effective. Finding the best balance of approaches to teaching times tables would benefit both teachers and pupils.


Classes will be assigned to one of five condition groups. Each group will have four 15-minute times tables teaching session per week. The sessions will be led by the class teacher.

Lead school   

  • Underwood West Academy


  • 8 months – report due September 2018

Download the protocol document