Posted by Peter on 2nd December 2011

Calculator ban in Primary Schools

Primary school pupils could face a ban on using calculators according to Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister. Following a government study he has suggested that pupils should only be able to use calculators once they have mastered basic maths, including learning ‘times tables’.

This announcement comes as a result of a government study which found that 24% of adults had the number skills of a child aged 9 or younger. This includes being unable to work out their change in a supermarket.

That certainly does not surprise me, but I am not sure of the evidence suggesting a link between calculator use and lack of basic skills. Certainly I know of no school which allows children to freely use calculators to carry out basic calculations. I am also wondering how these children deprived of a calculator are going to get on with the SAT Paper B which is based on using a calculator and usually much harder than the non-calculator paper.

This kind of knee jerk reaction is typical of our government ministers. They might be better served by suggesting what children should be doing to improve their basic skills. Rather coincidently, talking of change from a supermarket, have just informed me that they have  a Christmas Special  ‘Change from £10’ worksheet amongst many which are now available free of  charge on their site. These are also available for you at:

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