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Number skills

Peter Critchley is right in believing that children should learn to work out 25+16 in their heads. ("Tips we could do without", TES, July 5) However, he's wrong in assuming this means there is no place for pencil-and-paper methods. If you don't believe me, try working out 3467+5683+7638 without writing it down or using a calculator.

Calculating in columns is a useful skill. Learning it gives valuable practice with place value and number bonds. Mastering it gives children confidence in their ability to manipulate large numbers and helps them cope with bank statements, till receipts and other real-life situations where numbers are written in columns.

If we fail to teach this skill, we leave children unable to handle large numbers without a calculator. Surely we cannot call that numeracy.

DIANA KIMPTON Baring Road Cowes, Isle of Wight

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