More than 40,000 primary school pupils in the North East have benefitted from a pioneering education programme to boost youngsters’ computing skills.
The Barefoot Computing project, which has now reached more than one million pupils UK-wide, helps primary school teachers get to grips with computing so that they can better help their pupils.
Led by BT and the British Computer Society, Barefoot offers free teaching-resources and volunteer-led training workshops, designed to help primary school teachers get confident when teaching computer science and computing skills.
It is making a big impact across the UK with over 130,000 resources downloaded and more than 35,000 teachers using those resources.
In the North East more than 80 workshops have been held, attended by 1,500 teachers, who have then been better able to help more than 40,000 of their pupils.
Farooq Hakim, chairman of BT’s North East regional board, said: “Computing is a vital skill for the future of the North East. For the individual, it opens the door to a world of possibilities. Businesses and organisations of all types and sizes rely on this technology, whilst households use it for online learning, research and entertainment.
“In the North East BT volunteers are running workshops at schools the length and breadth of the region, giving teachers the confidence to teach computing skills to young people. Those skills will undoubtedly be used to successfully navigate a whole host of real-world challenges as they go through life.”
Barefoot was created in response to concerns that many young people today are passive consumers rather than active creators of technology – and risk being left behind.
Findings from research company Ipsos MORI and BT showed how important it is for the UK to step up its efforts on primary school tech literacy. Seventy eight per cent of primary school teachers think tech literacy is as important as reading and writing. Seventy five per cent strongly agreed it’s their job to prepare pupils for a digital world, but only 25 per cent strongly agreed they felt able to do that. Barefoot is designed to address that need.
Liz Williams, BT’s director of tech literacy, said: “BT is delighted Barefoot has reached this major milestone, because we know that the next generation’s life chances will be improved by being able to thrive in the digital world.”
Barefoot is part of BT’s Tech Literacy ambition and forms part of the long-term commitment by BT, unveiled in 2015, to help build a culture of tech literacy for the nation, reaching five million young people by 2020.