Ministers fear children may become reliant on calculators if they use them at too young an age. Photograph: Don Mcphee Calculators may be restricted in primary schools until children have mastered basic arithmetic including knowing times tables by heart, a minister has said. The use of calculators will be looked at as part of a national curriculum review, after the schools minister, Nick Gibb, expressed concern that children\'s mental and written arithmetic was suffering because of reliance on the devices. Gibb said: \"Children can become too dependent on calculators if they use them at too young an age. They shouldn\'t be reaching for a gadget every time they need to do a simple sum. \"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.\" In a parliamentary debate on Wednesday led by the Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss, she warned of the dangers of producing \"a satnav generation of students overly reliant on technology\". The review is under way, and ministers are due to announce new programmes of study for English, maths, science and PE early next year. These will be introduced in schools next September. Students are encouraged to use calculators in the national curriculum, which has a section on \"calculator methods\" for children aged between eight and 11. The use of calculators is common in Year 5, when children are aged between nine and 11. A 2007 study found that only 2% of Year 5 pupils in England were banned from using calculators, compared with the international average of 54%. A recent Ofsted report on maths, which looked at 20 successful primary schools, found most only introduced calculators in the later stages of primary schooling, and then only for checking answers for calculations carried out without them. Gibb compared England to three high-performing regions and countries around the world: Massachusetts, Singapore and Hong Kong. In all three, curriculums state that calculators should not be used as a replacement for basic understanding and skills, the government said. Fourth and sixth grade state assessments in Massachusetts – equivalent to Years 5 and 7 in England – do not permit the use of a calculator. Massachusetts is the highest performing US state for maths. In Singapore, which is ranked second for maths in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) league tables, almost no 10-year-olds use calculators in the classroom. The UK is currently rated 28th for maths in the same league table. One in five 11-year-olds in England failed to reach the expected level in maths this year, according to provisional figures. Gibb added: \"You can\'t expect children to cope with complicated quadratic equations if they don\'t know their times tables by heart. \"Without a solid grounding in arithmetic and early maths in primary school, children go on to struggle with basic maths skills throughout their school careers. It also means they leave school without the knowledge they need to complete everyday tasks in their adult lives. \"The use of calculators in primary schools must be appropriate.\"