Calculator ban for 11-year-olds

Free Press Series: Pupils are to be prevented from using calculators in the maths national curriculum tests, ministers said Pupils are to be prevented from using calculators in the maths national curriculum tests, ministers said

Calculators are to be banned from maths tests for 11-year-olds, the Government has announced.

The move comes amid concerns by ministers that primary school pupils are overly reliant on them.

From 2014, pupils will be prevented from using calculators in the maths national curriculum tests, the Department for Education (DfE) said. The tests, known as Sats, are taken by youngsters in their final year of primary school.

Under the current curriculum, pupils can begin using calculators at the age of seven. The current maths Sats test is split into three papers, and pupils are allowed to use calculators for one 45-minute test.

The new draft primary maths curriculum, published earlier this year, suggests that calculators should not be introduced until the later years of primary school, after children have a good grounding in mental and written arithmetic.

Education minister Elizabeth Truss said that all pupils should know their times tables, and be able to add, subtract and divide sums before they begin using calculators.

"By banning calculators in the maths test, we will reduce the dependency on them in the classroom for the most basic sums," she said. "Children will have a solid grounding in the basics so they can grow up to be comfortable with the maths they will need in their adult lives."

Around 98% of 10-year-olds in England are allowed to use calculators in maths lessons, compared to an international average of 46% according to research published in 2007, the DfE said.

Ms Truss said: "Maths influences all spheres of our daily lives, from working out the change from your shopping to an architect's calculations in designing the latest London skyscraper.

"The irony is that while maths is all around us, it seems to have become acceptable to be 'bad with numbers'. The habit of simply reaching for the calculator to work things out only serves to worsen that problem."

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