Does unlimited access to calculators affect maths results?

There is no doubt that young people today have access to a vast array of technology including mobile phones, iPods, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs, which should be embraced in the classroom.  They offer great opportunities to extend learning and engage learners but is unlimited access to a calculator reducing their ability to achieve their potential ?


Even in maths lessons, learners will generally have calculators available throughout their secondary education.  Whilst being able to use their calculators is considered an essential skill, does it really remove the need to be able to calculate by hand ?


Having recently tutored a large number of year 11 students in the run up to their GCSE exams, from both the private and state system I should add, many relied on technology for even the most routine questions.  These were capable students who were not achieving their potential, not because they couldn’t use Pythagoras’ Theorem or Trigonometry but because they had completely forgotten how to do the very basics.  Subtraction with borrowing, long multiplication and division were the areas which needed most work; basics which most primary school children have mastered were seriously affecting grades.


As I said these were capable students who were just out of practise, they had technology available in all maths sessions throughout secondary school and had simply forgotten these fundamental skills.  With a quick reminder and a bit of practise they were able to improve their mock paper results by 10 or more marks with very little effort.


I would urge all teachers to have sessions where calculators are not allowed, as a matter of routine, so that learners continue to practise their basic 4 operations throughout secondary school, this will reap benefits when it comes to exam time – I guarantee it!


Many schools offer specific GCSE revision sessions either within class time or in addition to timetabled lessons, an hour working on the 4 operations will produce a really quick win.  Trust me; a quick win will have other knock on benefits too – increasing confidence and motivation.


At Tutors4gcse, all of our maths sessions are started with a non-calculator activity which focusses on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills.  With a set of dice and a pack of cards, there are many games which will engage learners of all ages; why not download our
Blockbusters game, which is perfect for practising +, – and x and can be differentiated too.


If your school is looking to run a one-off revision day during a school holiday period or regular, weekly intervention to improve results, we can provide subject specialist tutors to deliver a programme tailored for your school’s priorities.  Please get in touch, we will be pleased to discuss your needs and provide a solution to meet your requirements and budget.

Call: 0800-048-8864




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