Zero is a valid answer!

Pupils sometimes forget that the answer to a calculation can be zero. Whilst zero is often referred to as a placeholder, it is important to ensure that pupils also recognise it as an amount. The link between zero and the words ‘nothing’ or ‘none’ may need explicit reinforcement.

This misconception arises particularly in division calculations. When presented with 4 ÷ 5, a pupil may say, ‘You can’t do that’. When asked how many groups of 5 they could make, they may be able to say, ‘None and there would be 4 left over’. When then asked to write down the answer, they may question what they need to write, needing reassurance that ‘none’ means zero and that this is a valid answer.