Poll: Do you agree with calculator ban for primary school children taking Sats exams this week?
08:48 14 May 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2013
Banning primary school children from using calculators in national tests is a “backward step”, according to leading academics.
University dons have criticised the Government’s decision to stop pupils using the devices in national curriculum tests - known as “Sats” - arguing research shows they can help pupils’ achievement in maths.
As part of major school reforms championed by education minister and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Trust, ministers announced that calculators would be banned from Sats maths tests from this year onwards, due to concerns that pupils were becoming overly reliant on them.
Hundreds of thousands of 11-year-olds across England are sitting Sats papers in English and maths this week.
As the tests took place, a number of academics and researchers from leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, suggested that there was a lack of evidence in favour of banning primary school children from using calculators.
Anne Watson, emeritus professor of mathematics education at Oxford University, said: “There is a substantial amount of good evidence on calculators in schools, mainly from the US, and none of it shows their use is detrimental to pupils’ learning.
“In fact, students who use calculators regularly in lessons score as high or higher in tests, taken without calculators, compared to those who do not.”
Ms Truss said: “All children should be confident with addition, subtraction, times tables and division before they pick up a calculator.
“It is vital that children have a solid grounding in the basics so they can grow up to be comfortable with the maths they need in their adult lives. Banning calculators in primary school tests will help end the culture of reaching for a calculator at the first sign of a tricky sum.
“Some of the world’s top education systems already do this and there is no reason why children in England can’t compete with the best. Ensuring children leave primary school with a strong grasp of mathematics is a vital part of a long-term economic plan to safeguard this country’s future.”