A MAJOR training programme for maths teachers on the use of graphics calculators is required if pupils are to benefit fully, Derek Simpson of Beeslack High, Penicuik, told a workshop at the Scottish Mathematical Council conference at Stirling University.
Mr Simpson later told The TES Scotland that despite resistance to their use graphics calculators "can do a lot of maths visually so that there is a real tie-up between algebra and the graph".
He praised the Scottish Qualifications Authority for its "very positive moves" towards a coherent programme of introducing graphics calculators. "There is a big issue about how four-function calculators ruined numeracy and part of the argument is that they were introduced withoutany clear guidance or practice from teachers - they just turned up. Teachers need to be trained in the use of this new technology."
He added: "I can teach children to use the calculators to perform better in assessments than pupils who don't use them. It is demonstrable that people who use graphics calculators for Higher maths will do better."
Calum Stewart, principal maths teacher at Preston Lodge High, Prestonpans, pointed out that there is still no central funding for such calculators, but some authorities are paying for them through information technology budgets. The Inspectorate seemed to be of the opinion that "graphics calculators in the maths class are more appropriate than the use of a computer".