13th February 2018: More than forty per cent of Northern Ireland Primary Schools have signed up to an initiative to boost tech literacy in the classroom in its first year. The Barefoot Computing Project works with teachers to help them develop the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to teach computer science.
The Barefoot programme is led by BT in Northern Ireland and supported by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, and CAS – Computing at School.It provides free workshops and classroom resources, which have been designed by teachers and tailored to meet the needs of the NI curriculum.
In the year since its launch, the programme has reached 42% of Northern Ireland Primary Schools.Volunteers have delivered over 100 free workshops to more than 1,000 teachers - reaching around 31,000 NI school children. Many more schools have also registered to use Barefoot’s online resources, helping many more pupils make the most of lessons with a computing element.
Paddy Hardy is the Principal of St Mary's Aghlisnafin Primary School in Castlewellan, which registered with the Barefoot programme last summer.He says: “The resources and lesson plans are excellent because they’ve clearly been designed by teachers with experience in the classroom.
“The in-school training for staff has allowed us to introduce problem-solving into every class, not just maths, because tech literacy is now a fundamental building block of children’s education.
“We have always encouraged our P7 pupils to be ‘reading buddies’ for some of the P1 children.Now we’ve got the older children helping the younger ones as their ICT buddies.That’s thanks to the Barefoot progamme.”
Barefoot is part of BT’s tech literacy ambition and forms part of the company’s long-term commitment to reach five million young people in the UK by 2020.Acting Managing Director of BT’s Northern Ireland Networks division, Garret Kavanagh, says: “We’ve made significant progress since the Barefoot programme was launched in Northern Ireland just over a year ago.It’s great to see so many local Primary Schools accessing the free resources to boost computing confidence in the classroom.
“We’re living in an increasingly digital world and tech literacy is now as important as reading and writing.That’s why BT wants to encourage more schools in Northern Ireland to sign up to Barefoot.”
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, recently held a free training session for Barefoot volunteers at Stranmillis University College. Rachel McKane, Chair of BCS NI, says:“Our volunteers are trained to deliver the Barefoot resources to teachers in Primary Schools. They go into schools to talk to teachers about what we have to offer and work through some examples. They show that computational thinking is cross curricular and that, through practical activities, children can learn how to tackle challenges and solve problems through concepts such as abstraction, decomposition, algorithm, pattern, evaluation and logical thinking.”
Getting involved with the Barefoot programme is easy and free. To find out more, visit https://barefootcas.org.uk .
For further information please contact: Rosy Billingham, PR Manager for BT in Northern Ireland at email@example.com / 07968 904635
Notes to Editors
Photograph caption: Pupils from St Mary's Aghlisnafin Primary School in Castlewellan with Principal Paddy Hardy and Acting MD of NI Networks at BT, Garret Kavanagh.
The Barefoot project was established in 2014 with the original aim to help primary school teachers in England get ready for the computer science element of a new computing curriculum. It was originally funded by the DfE and run by BCS in partnership with BT and CAS.
BT took over the lead and funding for the project in 2015, with the continued support of BCS and CAS and now have the aspiration to enable the resources and workshops to be available to ALL primary school teachers throughout the UK.Development of the resources will continue, including introducing SEN resources. There are three main aspects of the Barefoot Computing Project.
- Exemplar teaching activities:Created by a team of practising computing teachers, these high quality, cross-curricular activities help primary teachers to deliver the computing curriculum in engaging and practical ways.
- Teach yourself concepts: These resources help primary teachers on their journey towards becoming excellent computing teachers by improving their subject knowledge and understanding. Giving clear definitions, examples and progression across all primary school age and ability ranges, these resources help teachers deepen their own understanding of computational thinking and computer science topics.
- Barefoot Workshops: The aim is to enable the resources and workshops to be available throughout the UK. These free CPD sessions are run by volunteer experts and introduce teachers to the Barefoot computing resources. Teachers can arrange for a Barefoot Workshop to be help at their school and benefit from great resources and support.