I am pleased to have secured this debate on the use of calculators in school. The Library confirmed to me that there has not been a single debate on this subject in the past 10 years, and I suspect that it goes even further back than that. There may never have been a debate in Parliament about the use of calculators in school, but it is extremely important that the subject is given an airing before the curriculum review in 2013.
To make the position clear, I am not anti-calculator. In fact, I count myself a bit of a geek. I was a mainstay of my school computer club, and I was happy to spend time programming in BASIC, and whiled away many a contented teenage hour doing so. However, I believe that technology has to be used in the right way at the right time and at the right age. I do not believe in the micromanagement of teachers, or telling them what they ought to do in the classroom. On the subject of calculators, we must acknowledge that the Government have actively encouraged their use in school through directions in the national curriculum and calculator use in standard assessment tests. We are therefore not looking at a neutral landscape.
This is becoming increasingly interesting: The Telegraph, some quotes:
Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said pupils can become “too dependent” on calculators, adding: “They need to master addition, subtraction, times tables and division, using quick, reliable written methods.
“This rigour provides the groundwork for the more difficult maths they will come across later in their education.”
On Thursday, the DfE confirmed that the use of calculators would be considered as part of a wholesale review of the National Curriculum in England.