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:

Cyclists warned: Don't be dimwits

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 25th October 2014

BIKE safety campaigners have warned that cyclists are risking their lives, after an Oxford Mail survey found more than half of them were riding without lights.

FOOTBALL: Rose wants to keep Oxford United climbing

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014

Danny Rose is targeting a move into mid-table today as Oxford United visit Carlisle United in search of a third win in eight days.

Shhh... silent film is a reel hit with movie buffs

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014

FILM buffs were given a taste of how movies used to be watched as they turned out for a silent screening in Witney.

Update: Oxford University student Isobel Priest is found safe and well

Oxford Mail:

8:49am Saturday 25th October 2014

Police have said the 21-year-old Oxford University student who was reported missing has been found safe and well.

Runaway emu killed after crash with car

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:40am Saturday 25th October 2014

AN EMU escaped from a garden in Boar’s Hill and died after being hit by a car, Thames Valley Police said yesterday.

Off and running for entry to our OX5 extravaganza

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Saturday 25th October 2014

THE starting gun has been fired for next year’s Oxford Mail OX5 Run as places open for runners in the fundraising extravaganza.

West Way supporters 'bullied into silence'

Oxford Mail: vale of white horse logo

8:30am Saturday 25th October 2014

THE developers behind the proposed £100m Botley regeneration scheme have claimed some of their supporters have been “bullied into silence”.

Fashion Week: First male Face of Oxford a front-runner from start

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 25th October 2014

IT was a case of right place and right time for this year’s Face of Oxford.

F1 team must be sold before staff can return

Oxford Mail: IN THE RUNNING: Richard Pardon’s photograph of Caterham F1 team engineers in Oxfordshire

7:30am Saturday 25th October 2014

STAFF at Caterham F1 have been told not to return to the team’s West Oxfordshire base until it is sold.

Royals and residents join to mourn a popular Duke

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Saturday 25th October 2014

FAMILY, friends and schoolchildren paid their final respects to the 11th Duke of Marlborough at his funeral in Woodstock yesterday.

Bowl-ed over by green cup to drink tea in style

Oxford Mail:

6:40am Saturday 25th October 2014

IT may be Britain’s favourite beverage, but leave your mugs at home for this new exhibition showing how to drink tea in style.

Flooding victims told they won't be left out of pocket

Oxford Mail: Burst water main closes Lower Hall Lane in Chingford

6:30am Saturday 25th October 2014

FLOOD-HIT residents will not have to pay two sets of council tax after water bosses pledged to foot extra costs.

'Major hope' that Caterham factory in Leafield could re-open despite F1 team also going into administration

Oxford Mail:

1:34pm Friday 24th October 2014

ADMINISTRATORS have been handed full management responsibility for the Caterham Formula One team in a bid to find a new buyer.

UPDATE: Hundreds line Woodstock's streets for 11th Duke of Marlborough's funeral

Oxford Mail:

11:40am Friday 24th October 2014

HUNDREDS of people have gathered outside St Mary Magdalene's church in Woodstock to pay their respects to the 11th Duke of Marlborough.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

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