With the introduction of the computing curriculum to schools last year, there are now more kids than ever getting to grips with the fundamentals of coding.
But equipping young people with the tools to succeed in an increasingly digital world needn’t begin and end in the schoolroom, and IT organisations startups and individuals have a part to play in driving a new wave of digital literacy.
There are many online resources and programming clubs are now widely available throughout the UK: whether to provide the building blocks for a career in software development, inspire the Silicon Roundabout startups of the future, or simply to equip youngsters with basic understating of technology. In fact, some may even help parents can learn a thing or two as well.
Access to skills is a also big issue for businesses. It is estimated that in just a few years, there will be a shortage of 300,000 digitally skilled workers in London alone, meaning that an education in computing will play a role in the health of the economy in the coming years.
So where to get started? Here are some of the best ways to help kids begin coding….
The Code Club initiative began in 2012 to provide after-school learning for children aged between 9 and 11. More than 2,000 such clubs are now active across the UK, with Google and Raspberry Pi among those backing the project.
Volunteer programmers and developers spend an hour a week at schools and libraries, showing children how to produce computer games and animations and websites. This involves teaching Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python.
Code Club has also expanded internationally with the aim of creating 14,000 clubs in total. In a bid to reach a wider audience, it services are also now available online.
London-based edtech startup Code Kingdoms launched a free game earlier this year designed to teach children aged 6 to 13 how to code and support the UK’s new national computing curriculum.
CoderDojo is a global initiative that offers free, volunteer-led programming clubs for young people aged between 7 and 17.
Kids attending the community-based events are taught how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and explore technology in an informal and creative environment, the group says.
Dojos have been popping up across the UK in recent years, with London, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds among the cities hosting events.
Barclays Code Playground
Banks are increasingly reliant on digital channels to reach their customers, and helping to ensure that more people in the UK can use online and mobile banking helps achieve this.
Launched earlier this year, the Barclays Code Playground website offers youngsters an introduction to the world of programming, as well as allowing parents to book ‘coding sessions’ at 300 branches where they too can learn digital literacy skills.
Code First: Girls
The tech industry continues to be largely male-dominated, but Code First: Girls aims to address the problem by creating communities for young women interested in developing technical skills such as coding and programming
Hundreds of young women are currently enrolled on programmes and learning how to code through Code First: Girls, with more than 1,500 taking parts in events and courses run by the social enterprise in the last 18 months.
Aimed at a slightly older audience, Makers Academy’s intensive 12-week bootcamp trains people in Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, Node JS and more, providing web development skills to help junior developers enter employment upon completion of the course.
Although targeted at more mature students, no knowledge of coding is required to join the course.
It is also getting tougher: As of December Maker’s Academy has introduced a four week, part time, online 'pre-course' which all students are required to complete before enrolling.
The US firm opened its first international office in London last year, and its resources have been used by over 1,000 schools in the UK, while it has struck partnerships with the likes of Code Club.
US startup Tynker released an iPad app that introduces the basics of programming last year, and has since been expanded to Android. Based on the firm’s website – launched in 2013 - children are able to solve puzzles using a drag and drop interface similar to MIT’s Scratch simple coding language.
The free service has proved popular with millions of users across the world, and is even used in thousands of schools across the US.
Aimed at kids aged 9 to 14, Code Monster encourages experiment with the size, shape and location of objects and animations using live code.
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