Students and entrepreneurs brought together for Create! campaign

Sherry Coutu speaks to Computer Weekly about Founders4Schools and the Create! campaign to bring students and entrepreneurs together

Founders4Schools' Create! campaign is helping students to link the STEM skills they are learning at school with creating the IT businesses of the future.

The campaign includes the Create! Your Own App competition, which tasks young people with finding tech solutions to the challenges around them.

Sherry Coutu, chairman of Founders4Schools, told Computer Weekly that secondary school students will be asked to come up with ideas for apps they would want to use, and university students will be tasked with creating them.

Winning app teams will be invited to an awards ceremony in London during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“It is critical to show children where the future jobs are, and let them know that it’s a clear and attainable path for them to get there,” said Coutu.

“Teachers can help their students start this process today by booking talks by high-impact entrepreneurs, entering their students in an app ideas competition, and continuing to inspire them with programmes around technology and enterprise. Initiatives like this one make the academic curriculum seem so much more relevant to our 21st century world and, therefore, much higher impact.”

Coutu said not-for-profit Founders4Schools was created out of her frustration with the lack of careers advice available to her own daughter, who decided to pursue a career in medicine. Her daughter was advised to gain work experience at a local care home, working with dementia patients. Although a worthy work experience placement, it did not give her much insight into the world of medicine.  

Through Founders4Schools, teachers can connect with founders of local STEM companies to organise free events aimed to inspire students to become entrepreneurs.

Teachers can log in to the Founders4Schools website, register their interest and, working through LinkedIn’s application programming interface, Founder4Schools will locate a local business founder to come and speak at the school. Founders are encouraged to describe their entrepreneurial journey to students.

Pilot programmes by Founders4Schools have reached more than 2,400 students, 94% of whom said they were inspired by the business founders who came to speak at their school.

According to Founders4Schools, after only one session, students said they were three times more likely to consider business and STEM subjects.

Winners of the app building competition will receive a tour of online games developer Mind Candy. Michael Acton Smith, CEO of Mind Candy, said: “This is a wonderful initiative that will tap into the creativity of schoolchildren throughout the country.  We can’t wait to see what they create and hope we get a chance to work with the creators at Mind Candy.”

Other partners supporting the campaign include Apps for Good, Behind the Screen, TeenTech and Young Rewired State, Codecademy, Decoded, Code Club, iDEA, Kano, Raspberry Pi Foundation, Make Things Do Stuff, Microsoft and Cambridge University Press UK Schools.

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