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Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether surveys held by his Department show that there is a link between poor numeracy amongst school leavers and the increasing use of pocket calculators in the class room and examination hall; and if he will make a statement.

I know of no evidence to this effect. Work with calculators can increase the scope of mathematics teaching; their use is, however, a matter for local education authorities, schools and examining boards. Evidence about standards of numeracy generally will be available with the results of my Department's monitoring of performance in mathematics. The Cockcroft committee of inquiry into mathematics teaching in schools may also offer guidance in these matters.Standards of numeracy need to be improved, but this will not automatically happen with the use of pocket calculators.