Calculator training needed

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
THE drive to limit calculators in primary schools has proved too successful, as children are now not using them even when they should do, a survey has found, writes Julie Henry.

A fifth of the 500 Year 5 teachers questioned in a survey by the Centre for British Teachers "hardly ever" used calculators with their 10-year-olds, while 34 per cent used them only two or three times a term.

Nearly 15 per cent used calculators once or twice a week and just under a quarter used them once or twice a fortnight. Only 3 per cent of the teachers used them every day.

The national curriculum originally required five-year-olds to learn how to use a calculator bu from 1999 it was decided they should be introduced from the age of seven and then only used for complicated sums involving more than seven digits and decimal points.

The restriction was aimed at encouraging schools to develop pupils' mental arithmetic skills.

But last week an Office for Standards in Education assessment of the numeracy strategy said that teachers' lack of knowledge of how to use calculators needed to be addressed as a priority.

The report said a quarter of the daily maths lessons involving Year 5 and 6 pupils included some use of calculators but teachers remained uncertain about when and how often to introduce them.

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