Calculator ban on young pupils

The report below is copied from the London Evening Standard of  1st December 2011. In my experience we have a similar problem here that needs to be dealt with.

calculator ban
Children are to banned from using calculators in the early years of primary school to tackle a nationwide crisis in basic maths skills, it was revealed today.

Ministers ordered a crackdown on pupils relying on technology as figures showed 17 million people are so bad with numbers they cannot pay household bills or understand price labels.

Teachers will be told to make pupils in the first five years of school use their heads instead of calculators and computers.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “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 came as official research today revealed millions are practically innumerate and are also struggling to read properly. The government-commissioned study showed:

* Almost 17 million adults have the maths skills of a nine-year-old.
* More than five million people are struggling with reading and writing.
* At least two million have the maths and literacy skills of a five-year-old. According to the Skills for Life survey, which questioned 7,000 adults, the problem is getting worse.

Carol Taylor of the National Institute of Adult Education said: “It is alarming. We have far too many people with very poor basic skills in this country and the system isn’t working for them.

“Put simply, around one in six of the adult population has difficulty with aspects of reading and writing.”

The findings came as the Government announced new rules to combat the problem. Schools minister Mr Gibb said a section on using calculators in the SATs for 11-year-olds will be scrapped. He said: “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.”

Pupils in future will only be allowed to use a calculator once they know their times tables by heart and have a thorough grounding in basic maths, under proposals which will be considered in the National Curriculum Review.

Mr Gibb highlighted research showing that in best-performing education systems calculators are used only in the upper years of primary schools.

The UK has fallen from eight to 28th in maths over the past 10 years in international league tables.

The skills report showed that 16.8 million adults (49.1 per cent) have numeracy skills at Entry Level 3 or below. This is equivalent to the achievement expected of a child aged nine to 11.

Adults with skills below this level would struggle to pay bills.

This is up on 2003, the last time the survey was conducted, when 14.9 million adults had numeracy skills at Entry Level 3 or below.

In literacy, 5.1 million adults (14.9 per cent) were at Entry Level 3 or below, down slightly from 2003, when the figure stood at 5.2 million.

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