Islington celebrates its future pioneers in tech

TV's Maggie Philbin joined Islington schools this week to celebrate their achievements in computing, a year on since Code Clubs were launched in the borough's primary schools.

The free, volunteer-led after-school clubs have helped 9-11 year-olds learn a wide range of computer programming skills through designing computer games, animations, websites and blogging.

Islington is leading the way with Code Clubs and has a higher percentage of schools running a club than any other borough. Volunteers are wide ranging, from big industry names such as Bloomberg and BT, to independent, local, digital designers.

The event was hosted at the Emirates Stadium and gave pupils the opportunity to showcase their achievements in technology in front of an audience of industry experts and digital champions. 

Children as young as six demonstrated their ability to create apps, understand algorithms and use programmes such as Scratch, Makey Makey and raspberryPi.

11 year-old Fatma is part of Moreland Primary’s Code Club.  She said:

“We get to create stuff and learn so much about coding – we’ve made parrots that flap their wings and balloons that pop on screen.  I think it’s very important for people our age to learn about coding as we’ll need it in our lives.”

Pupils from Winton Primary School also shared their experiences of their visit to Downing Street in December, where they shared their new skills with the Prime Minister as part of the national Hour of Code events.

Speakers at the celebration event included “Bang Goes the Theory” reporter and Leader of the Digital Skills Taskforce, Maggie Philbin, who also attended the launch of Islington’s Code Clubs last year.  She said:

“I can’t believe how much has happened in just one year and I’ve had the most wonderful time seeing the energy and enthusiasm for computing from pupils and their teachers.  I’ve also had a chance to meet some great volunteers who are supporting the learning in schools.  They’re giving up their precious free time to support teachers, which is critical to the success of Code Clubs.”

She finished her talk by telling pupils:

“You are going to be running the high-tech businesses of the future.”

Islington has developed a lead teacher programme and computing strategy to support the national Computing Curriculum that was introduced in September 2014. Five lead teachers support clusters of schools around the borough.  The team have worked closely with the Department for Education and Barefoot Computing initiative led by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and received training from BT.

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council's executive member for children and families, said:

"Computing is now such an integral part of the world that children inhabit.  Given Islington’s proximity to Old Street's high-tech hub, it’s essential that our schools are equipping our young people with the skills they will need to forge careers in such a fast-growing economy.

“I am so impressed by what I’ve seen at our Code Clubs and at the celebration event, where pupils are grappling with really complex programmes.  Not only do they clearly enjoy the clubs, but they are being equipped with a lifelong interest in computing.

”In Islington we’re leading the way with Code Clubs, with an impressive 60 per cent of our schools having one.  But we need more volunteers to come forward and help us get this figure up to 100 per cent.”




Notes to editors

Please credit James Mackenzie Photography

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