The government has made the decision to ban calculators in maths tests for 11-year-olds from 2014, in a bid to improve the quality of education offered in this country.
Already enforced in high-performing places such as Hong Kong and Massachusetts in the US, the ban will have a major impact on professionals in maths teacher jobs, with more of a focus required on mental arithmetic in their lesson plans for children at this age.
Announcing the move, education and childcare minister Elizabeth Trus said that children are using calculators too much too early, with some primary school-aged students already becoming reliant on such devices for basic maths during lessons.
Previous draft legislation has made it clear that calculators should not be introduced by teachers until a late stage of primary education, when students learn about things such as converting simple fractions into decimals.
According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, ten-year-olds in England were among the most frequent calculator users in the world in 2007, with 98 per cent allowed by their teachers to use them in class. This compared poorly to the international average of just 46 per cent.
Ms Truss said that calculators should only be introduced when pupils have already grasped basic mathematical concepts such as times tables and understand how numbers are added, subtracted, multiplied and divided. The minister said it is "time to end the dependence on calculators to do basic maths".
Commenting on the announcement, Professor Celia Hoyles, director of the National Centre for the Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, said that children develop more confidence and enjoy more success with maths if they understand a range of different methods, including mental and written calculation.
"It is important that calculators are used appropriately," she said, "so children do not become dependent on them for arithmetic but at the same time are able to use them as a tool to support their own problem solving."
Posted by Theo Foulds