Academics raise concerns at calculator ban for SATs

Oxford University’s Prof Terezinha Nunes

Oxford University’s Prof Terezinha Nunes

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

TEACHERS and academics have raised concerns about the impact of banning calculators in primary school tests.

Children in Year 6 have this week been sitting their National Curriculum SATs tests and for the first time under Government changes they cannot use calculators in the maths exams.

Ministers believe pupils are becoming too reliant on calculators, saying pupils should know their times tables and be able to add, subtract and divide before learning to use calculators.

But others have warned that the ruling could have a big impact on results.

Teacher April Warren, whose Year 6 pupils at Larkrise Primary School in East Oxford, were due to take the maths test yesterday, said it was difficult to know the impact the ban would have.

She said earlier: “What will have an impact is whether the test paper reflects not being able to use a calculator.

“We won’t know for definite how that has gone until we open the papers. If the tests are still set at the level that they were last year then it could have a big impact on results.”

Experts at Oxford University have argued children would lose vital skills and it will be detrimental to their learning.

Professor of Educational Studies Terezinha Nunes said calculators helped children develop mathematical reasoning.

She said: “There is a balance between assessing computation skills and reasoning.

“But if you take away the possibility of calculators, either you are going to not focus at all on reasoning and just thinking about how to do the sums correctly, or demand less on reasoning skills and so spend time calculating.”

Oxfordshire County councillor and education expert John Howson agreed that it could have an effect on results.

He said: “We won’t know what effect it will have until we get the results. I can see both sides.”

But he added: “Asking children to not use them does seem a bit like a step back.”

“It’s like going back to logorithms instead of using a computer. If the technology is there it should be a skill they should learn.”

Anne Watson, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education at Oxford University, said: “There is a substantial amount of good evidence on calculators in schools, mainly from the US, and none of it shows their use is detrimental to pupils’ learning.

“In fact, students who use calculators regularly in lessons score as high or higher in tests, taken without calculators, compared to those who do not.”

Our top stories:

Traffic on A34 after accident closes one lane

Oxford Mail: A34 traffic alert

5:40pm Tuesday 26th May 2015

DRIVERS are facing congestion after a two-vehicle crash closed one lane of the A34 northbound.

UPDATE: Severe delays on Botley Road this evening as latest phase of Frideswide Square works causes traffic chaos

Oxford Mail:

9:43am Tuesday 26th May 2015

Botley Road is at a standstill again as the latest phase of roadworks at Frideswide Square causes traffic chaos.

Police granted power to evict tenants from property in Banbury

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

3:27pm Tuesday 26th May 2015

TENANTS of a property in Banbury could be barred from entering their home by police.

Hundreds say goodbye to former Blackbird Leys councillor Val Smith during funeral

Oxford Mail:

2:10pm Tuesday 26th May 2015

HUNDREDS of mourners lined Blackbird Leys Road to pay their respects to former councillor Val Smith this morning.

Three-vehicle crash blocks lane on A34 near Botley interchange

Oxford Mail: A34 traffic alert

12:24pm Tuesday 26th May 2015

A CRASH is currently blocking a lane on the A34 near the Botley Interchange.

One lane closed on A40 near Witney due to pot hole repairs

Oxford Mail: A40 alert

11:56am Tuesday 26th May 2015

A LANE on the A40 near Witney has been closed this morning for essential pot hole repairs.

Video: How the Vicarage Road triple murder case unfolded over the weekend

Oxford Mail:

12:13pm Tuesday 26th May 2015

A video review of how the murders of Jan and Derin Jordon and Phil Howard, plus the subsequent manhunt for Jed Allen, unfolded.

Didcot murders: Post mortem results not expected until tomorrow

Oxford Mail:

11:22am Tuesday 26th May 2015

RESULTS of post mortem examinations on the three people killed in Didcot are not expected until tomorrow, police said.

FOOTBALL: Justin Merritt's relishing step into unknown

Oxford Mail:

9:20am Tuesday 26th May 2015

Oxford City general manager Justin Merritt feels that his side’s change of divisions next season is a mixed blessing, but is relishing the new challenge.

Didcot murders: Ribbons mark a town’s grief at the tragedy in their midst

Oxford Mail:

8:50am Tuesday 26th May 2015

BRIGHTLY coloured ribbons tied carefully around posts on the streets of Didcot have become a symbol of solidarity in the town.

Traffic building on M40 between junctions 10 and 11

Oxford Mail: Lorry jackknifes on M40 causing traffic tailbacks

8:27am Tuesday 26th May 2015

DELAYS are expected for drivers on the M40 due to heavy traffic.

Live blog: Body found in hunt for Jed Allen following murder of family in Didcot

Oxford Mail:

8:11am Sunday 24th May 2015

Follow our Live and unrivalled coverage of the murder investigation in Didcot, updated throughout today

Man wanted after Didcot murders works for town council

Oxford Mail:

8:42am Monday 25th May 2015

THE MAN suspected of killing Philip Howard, Janet Jordon and Derin Jordon is employed as an apprentice gardener for Didcot Town Council.

Didcot murders: Smiling face of teenager with the sister he is suspected of killing

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Monday 25th May 2015

CRADLING his baby sister Derin, this is a teenage Jed Allen, the man suspected of killing her and their mother in a house in Didcot.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree