The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, the organisation behind the pocket-sized BBC micro:bit computer, is set to donate 57,000 coding devices to UK primary schools
In partnership with Nominet and the Scottish government, the project looks to aid the long-term digital skills gap in the UK, and help more children take their first steps into digital creativity and coding.
The donation of coding devices, which is planned to begin in April, will be provided alongside comprehensive teaching resources and online Continuing Professional Development courses.
As digital literacy and computing become increasingly important core skills, the initiative will see around 3,000 UK primary schools receive around 20 devices each.
Support from the Scottish government will see every primary school in Scotland receive 20 devices, with the Foundation and Nominet working with primary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to prioritise 22,000 devices to those that need additional support the most.
Roll-out of the micro:bits will also complement a three-phase research programme, as the Foundation looks to assess, monitor and address challenges, concerns and successes faced by UK primary teachers.
Having launched in 2016, there are currently 6 million BBC micro:bits being used by children all over the world, including most UK secondary schools.
“Digital literacy and computational thinking are critically important not only to the future of our society, but to the future of children who will one day shape that society,” said Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.
“They are increasingly important core skills, and we know that the earlier you learn them, the better. The BBC micro:bit has become an essential tool that teachers and students alike have come to love.
“We’ve seen fantastic adoption in secondary schools, and we’re delighted to support and empower even more teachers to unlock children’s creative potential at primary level.”
Adam Leach, CIO of Nominet, commented: “We are so pleased to see the continued roll-out of micro-bit in classrooms across the UK, enabling so many more primary school children to explore and develop their skills in digital creativity and computing.
“It’s exciting to think about the potential passion for technology this programme could set alight. On practical level, it is really important that access to learning these essential skills is provided to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to discover, experiment and master them.
“Each one of the 57,000 devices will impact on developing children’s core digital skills as citizens of a digitalised world – and perhaps even put some of them on a pathway to help fill the digital skills gap in the UK’s digital workforce of the future.”
How teachers will benefit
With the UK losing out on £63 billion in GDP annually due to the digital skills gap, primary school teachers will be able to benefit from accelerated development of capabilities.
Research underpinning the project from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet found that 61% of UK primary teachers responsible for teaching computing have no background in the subject.
Three in five, meanwhile, cite lack of resources as a barrier to teaching computing and digital skills.
Further information for interested teachers and schools can be found here.
Encouraging STEM uptake: why plugging the skills gap starts at school —
Agata Nowakowska, area vice-president EMEA at Skillsoft, discusses why plugging the skills gap in tech starts at school, and how this can be achieved.
How Edtech will shape the future of learning in 2022 — Joshua Wohle, co-founder and CEO of Mindstone, provides his predictions for how the Edtech sector will shape the future of learning in 2022