BBC Announces Plan to Get UK Schools Coding

The British Broadcasting Corporation has announced the launch of an initiative to promote coding and other IT skills for a new generation.

The program comes after concerns were raised by the government and experts over schools’ ability to offer critical computing skills. Many companies and experts have come out to support the initiative, as there are fewer people working in the technology sector in an economy that is increasingly becoming digital.

This initiative to promote computing skills comes 30 years after a BBC push to make computing mainstream by putting BBC Micro computers in the majority of schools. Tony Hall, BBC’s general director, in a speech to his staff, said that the initiative would be launched in 2015.

“We want to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology,” he said.

According to BBC News, there is cause to worry for the government and the sector as the all-important computing skills are seldom taught in schools. Meanwhile, interest in higher-education IT and computing courses is falling, giving rise to fears about a massive skills gap. With Education minister Michael Gove making it clear that he wants to see coding taught as a priority, a new computer science curriculum has been introduced to schools in Britain this year.

BBC’s future media director, Ralph Rivera, said that BBC has played a huge role in transforming the nation’s interest in coding.

“The BBC has played a hugely important role in inspiring a generation of digital and technology leaders in the past, and now it’s time to reignite that creativity,” he said. “We want to transform the nation’s ability and attitude towards coding.”

The programme’s details have been limited, but BBC said it would partner with educators, technology companies and the government.

“From working with children and young people, to stimulating a national conversation about digital creativity, the BBC will help audiences embrace technology and get creative,” the corporation said.

The Corporation also added that a range of tools would be made available to give people the skills to solve problems, tell stories and build new businesses in the digital world.

Experts appearing in a video to accompany the speech agreed that the government and schools needed to take action. Martha Lane Fox, charged with getting more people online via her organization, Go on UK, said that people needed to be encouraged to work more in the technology sector.

“We are going to need a million more people who can work in the technology sector over the next 10 years. We don’t have them. We’ve got to help to encourage people to go into that sector,” she said.

The founder of the Raspberry Pi budget computer project, Eben Upton, said that he looked forward to seeing how the plan developed.

“A generation of UK developers got their start thanks to the original BBC Computer Literacy Project and the BBC Micro,” he said. “This initiative represents a welcome return to computing education from the organisation that was responsible for my interest in the subject.”


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