Calculators may be banned in primary schools

Children’s maths skills are suffering because “satnav generation” rely too much on devices, says minister

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Young pupils may be banned from using calculators in schools after a minister has raised concern that children are struggling to memorise times tables.

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The use of calculators will be looked at as part of a national curriculum review after schools minister Nick Gibb said children are too reliant on the devices.

“Children can become too dependent on calculators if they use them at too young an age. They shouldn’t be reaching for a gadget every time they need to do a simple sum,” said Nick.

“They need to master addition, subtraction, times tables, division, using quick, reliable written methods. This rigour provides the groundwork for the more difficult maths they will come across later in their education,” Nick explained.

Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss warned that schools may be producing “a satnav generation of students overly reliant on technology” in a parliamentary debate this week.

The national curriculum review is currently under way. Ministers are due to announce new programmes of study for English, maths, science and PE next year, which will be introduced in schools in September that year.

The news comes as a new study revealed today that millions of people are very bad with numbers.

According to the Skills for Life survey, which questioned 7,000 adults, almost 17 million adults have the maths skill of a 9-year-old and at least 2 million have the maths and literacy skills of a 5-year-old.

The use of calculators is common in Year 5. A 2007 study found that only 2% of Year 5 pupils in England were banned from using calculators, compared with the international average of 54%.

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