Great news for the UK – another BBC repeat

When I visited a secondary school last week and asked about how much work they do with computers, I was disappointed with the replies. All students up to Year 11 (aged 11-16) do several hours a week, but it is limited to using applications – creating posters, monitoring costs, writing newspaper articles. They use computers, but they don’t do any programming at all.

I was even a little surprised to hear that all pupils are taught how to type, since I would have expected that by the age of 11 most, if not all, would have proficient typing skills.

But only the next day Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC made a major announcement which is set to change all this.

BBC_Plans to get the nation coding
Suddenly there appears to be a flurry of interest in coding.

A few days ago a small UK factory produced its millionth Raspberry Pi, meaning that combined with the 750,000 which were made in China, a total of more than 1.75 million have now been made. See Baked in Britain, the millionth Raspberry Pi.

At the same time, the BBC announced plans to inspire digital creativity for future generations, following some thirty years after the BBC Computer Literacy Project which resulted in the highly successful BBC Micro. That inspirational project is widely credited with spawning a generation of interest in computers, programming and gaming, and for kick-starting the computer industry in the UK.

This is all tremendously heartening news for the UK, and especially for young children, many of whom are likely to develop careers in this technology as a direct result of the initiative.

The rise of the Code Club is also good to see. This is a UK-wide network of volunteer-led after-school clubs for 9-11 year-olds. What a brilliant opportunity for those children to be inspired. Their 2-minute video, The Interview, is hilarious and demonstrates the high level of support they are getting. It was an inspired decision to ask Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Chad Hurley and Niklas Zennstrom (amongst others) to take part. Whoever thought of that deserves a medal.

The young people who are inspired to take an interest in coding as a result of this initiative are lucky, because it will give them some focus for their future career. And that’s something which is rare these days.

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Feel free to comment on this post – I’d be interested to hear your views.
Inixiti – Improving graduate employability. Click here to visit the website.

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4 thoughts on “Great news for the UK – another BBC repeat

    • Thanks very much for this Vanessa. I hadn’t seen it, but it’s encouraging news. I’ve been amazed to find that there are plenty of people who are opposed to the whole idea, believing the money would be better spent on teaching a broader range of skills (ie not everyone wants to be a coder; some people want to become chemical engineers or car mechanics etc).

      My own view is aligned with the Independent article – it won’t appeal to everybody but it will get a large bunch of people excited and inspired to start coding, and even if they end up doing something different, they’ll have picked up new skills along the way. It just goes to show – you can’t please everyone!

      Thanks for commenting. BTW – don’t worry about me interpreting your comment as spam. You always write good stuff and your comments are routed straight to me, arriving ahead of everyone else’s 😉

      • I figured if you saw my name you’d know it wasn’t spam, it’s just that when I was writing it I was aware of how it sounded like a spam comment!

        When I was growing up, we got a computer at home before anybody else I knew, back in the days when people were still saying “What does a computer do?” – my Dad was an electronics engineer, he used to design electronic components for a living, so we kind of always had the latest thing technology wise. He pretty much had to build the computer himself, buying the boards and assembling them. Anyway, I learned a bit of Basic programming then, even though my mind doesn’t really work that way, I got to grips with it a bit and I think it helped me to understand what was behind a lot of the technology as it evolved.

        A few years ago I also did a web design course and learned some html, again, I struggled a bit because it’s not really my thing, but just having some basic knowledge has helped me understand websites better, and how to tinker with things a bit on WordPress! I think it’s really important to have some basic background knowledge on how these things work – it’s rather like in maths lessons at school, they let you use a calculator, but not until you’ve learned how to do it manually first, it’s a shame the same principle isn’t applied more widely. Several months ago I went into my son’s bedroom (he’s 11), and I could see he was concentrating hard on something, so I asked him what he was doing and he said he was teaching himself Java programming! I can’t tell you how delighted I was!

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