Wednesday, July 8, 1998 Published at 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Calculator ban marks return to tradition
There is a renewed emphasis on 'whole class' teaching
Children under the age of eight will be banned from using calculators under the government's drive to improve the quality of maths lessons.
Times tables and mental arithmetic are among the "tried and tested" methods which primary schools across England will be encouraged to use. But some educationalists fear this moves too far towards telling teachers exactly what and how to teach.
The recommendations for schools are based on a report drawn up by the government's "numeracy task force", chaired by David Reynolds, professor of education at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
According to the report, children in Britain currently spend 80% of maths lessons working on their own, and only 20% being actively taught.
It does not recommend banning calculators, but the government intends to issue guidelines soon preventing their use by younger children.
The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has announced funding of £60m to back the campaign. Some of this money will be used to train teachers, some to employ 300 numeracy experts who will be on hand to advise schools.
He believes it is necessary for children to have a grasp of mental arithmetic - hence the limit on the use of calculators.
"We will equip people to do it properly so that the calculator, the computer, becomes our servant rather than our master," he said.