Use of calculators in primary schools to be reviewed


The use of calculators in primary schools is to be looked at as part of the National Curriculum Review, Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has announced.

He warned that too many children had come to rely on calculators – and that their mental and written arithmetic had suffered as a result. He said calculators should only be introduced once pupils had a thorough grounding in basic maths, including knowing times tables by heart.

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

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

"You can’t expect children to cope with complicated quadratic equations if they don’t know their times tables by heart.

"Without a solid grounding in arithmetic and early maths in primary school, children go on to struggle with basic maths skills throughout their school careers. It also means they leave school without the knowledge they need to complete everyday tasks in their adult lives.

"The use of calculators in primary schools must be appropriate."

Mr Gibb pointed to evidence from around the world. In the best-performing education systems calculators are used only in the equivalent of upper primary schools.