The government says calculators will be banned in primary school maths tests for 11-year-olds in England from 2014 in an attempt to improve standards in mental arithmetic. Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said pupils should only use them once they were confident in basic mathematical skills. This is from the BBC…
The move follows a government review of calculator use in primary schools.
Teaching unions responded that fluent use of calculators was essential, with the NUT’s Christine Blower calling the ban “a retrograde step”.
Ms Truss said an over-reliance on calculators meant children missed the rigorous grounding in mental and written arithmetic they needed to progress.
“All young children should be confident with methods of addition, subtraction, times tables and division before they pick up the calculator to work out more complex sums,” she said.
“By banning calculators in the maths test, we will reduce the dependency on them in the classroom for the most basic sums.”
She said maths “influences all spheres of our daily lives”.
“The irony is that while maths is all around us, it seems to have become acceptable to be ‘bad with numbers’,” Ms Truss said.
“The habit of simply reaching for the calculator to work things out only serves to worsen that problem.”
Prof Celia Hoyles, director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, said: “Children develop greater confidence and success in mathematics if they know a range of methods – for example mental and written calculation alongside quick recall of relevant number facts.
“It is important that calculators are used appropriately, so children do not become dependent on them for arithmetic but at the same time are able to use them as a tool to support their own problem solving.”
But teaching unions argued banning calculator use in the tests would risk pupils’ ability to use them to tackle more complex mathematical problems.