Kumon invited to join the discussion on BBC Breakfast!

Today 11-year-olds sat the first of two Key Stage 2 maths SATs papers; for the first time both papers will be completed without the help of calculators. In light of this, the BBC contacted Kumon to request a representative to join Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin on the BBC Breakfast programme this morning.

Having researched Kumon, the producers were aware we develop our students from basic counting to advanced calculus, all without the use of a calculator, and so deemed our organisation ideal to join in the discussion on the impact calculators can have on a child's development.

Jessica Abram, Deputy General Manager for Kumon UK and Ireland, was joined on the sofa by James Dathan, Assistant Head Teacher at Neston High School in Cheshire.

After introducing Kumon as a provider of self-learning based study programmes, Jessica Abram was asked for her viewpoint. She explained:
"I absolutely agree that calculators have a place, but it is about how we use the calculator. If a calculator is being used for example at primary school to do a basic calculation, maybe some simple division, that's actually preventing a child from developing that core basic skill. And I genuinely believe every child has the ability to be able to calculate those basics, from basic maths to advanced calculus without using a calculator, but without having the fundamental maths skills you are not able to use a calculator effectively later on.

So, for example, a question that was in one of the SATS papers last year was: 112 boys were playing football and there were seven in each team, how many teams were in the tournament? Now, they were allowed to use a calculator for that question, but then is that actually just using a calculator as a coping method because they haven't got the basic skill?"

It was raised that it is the responsibility of educators to help children develop the skills they require in the world outside of formal education. Jessica and James agreed that it is most important to ensure children develop an enjoyment for maths and are given the opportunity to develop the basic skills and also to be challenged.

What a pleasure to be invited to join this conversation. Wishing all students the best of luck in their SATs exams.

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