Barefoot Computing offers primary schools teachers 800 workshops

Barefoot Computing project and BT offer 800 workshops to support primary school teaching children as young as five

Primary school teachers will have access to a series of 800 workshops as part of the Barefoot Computing project led by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Between now and 2015, the project will hold 800 workshops in primary schools across England, aimed at supporting teachers in introducing the new computing curriculum in September 2014 and after.

In partnership with BT, the workshops will be run by volunteers from BT and the ICT and education sectors. The Department for Education is funding the workshops.

Teachers will gain an understanding of algorithms, abstraction and data structures through the workshops, and how to teach the concepts to children as young as five.

The Barefoot Computing project was launched earlier in 2014 to provide resources for primary school teachers with no previous knowledge of computer science.

Former education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “Our new, forward-thinking, computing curriculum, backed by industry experts, will raise standards, show students how to make computers work for them and give them the skills and knowledge they need to compete with their peers from around the world.

“Teachers will be a key part of this and we want them to have the confidence and expertise to teach this exciting programme.

“That’s why we’ve invested more than £3m in innovative training schemes, like the Barefoot Computing project, which will help equip primary school teachers to deliver the new curriculum.”

Bill Mitchell, director of education at the BCS, said: “Based on what primary teachers who are already teaching the new computing curriculum are telling us, we believe that teaching children computing is not just important in its own right, it’s also important because it improves numeracy and literacy skills. What most people don’t realise is that computational concepts underpin much of what we do in our daily lives.

“For example – making up a dance routine for something as simple as the Hokey Cokey to impress our friends; figuring out how to streamline a supply chain business process; developing a computer simulation to model how a new antibiotic will impact on the immune system; or just doing long multiplication – are all examples of using algorithms to solve problems. 

"By demystifying concepts like algorithms, we aim to give teachers the confidence that they can successfully teach the new computing curriculum to children from the age of five."

BT debuts ScratchJr coding tool

BT has also announced that it is adding support to teachers through the availability of a programming tool aimed at five- to seven-year-olds, called ScratchJr.

Tim Whitley, managing director research and innovation, BT Group, said: “BT has a long history of research and innovation. So we’re focused on developing the brightest minds in IT and technology and encouraging them to pursue it as a career. It’s vital that IT and coding skills are introduced to children at an early age, so we’re proud to be supporting this scheme, which will raise awareness and drive knowledge amongst both teachers and children.

 “We’re also taking action to engage young children in computer science by bringing ScratchJr to UK classrooms for the first time. This new application has been specifically designed to engage young children in learning the basics of computer programming in a fun and interactive way. We believe ScratchJr will act as the first stepping stone towards encouraging children to choose an exciting career in IT and technology later in life.”

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