Kindergarten Code

Can you name a cryptographic hash or explain what a nibble is? No? Well perhaps your kids will be able to help.

For too long now ICT on the school curriculum has been simply learning Microsoft Office and teaching children how to use technology rather than giving them insight into how it’s created. However, in the last few months, it seems like tectonic plates are beginning to shift, with Education Secretary Michael Gove paving the way for a more rigorous computer science approach to the teaching of technology. According to the new curriculum guidelines, children as young as five will be taught the definition of algorithms, how to create and debug a simple computer program, and to recognise common uses of ICT.

Look around you. You’ll see kids everywhere glued to their computer devices. They know how to navigate the latest technology better than most. Yet despite their obvious technological proficiency and countless hours playing games or on social networks, how many really understand how they actually work?

It has been argued that young children can’t possibly understand the complexities of computing programming. But when it comes to acquiring a foreign language, there’s no doubt that an early start can help. My friend’s four year old bears a testament to this; he can rattle off a bunch of French phrases he’s picked up without even blinking! This is because in our early development, we aren’t genetically hard-wired to one particular language. This elasticity to learning is exactly the same for learning coding vernacular too.

As anyone in the technology industry would agree, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to recruit computer science graduates and programmers with the appropriate skills.

We want to change this.

We’ve recently set up our own technology foundation and are working very closely with the organisation Code Club to help promote computing science from an early age.

Easy as Pi

Code Club is an extraordinarily successful after-school club which was set up to help children aged between nine and 11 develop programming skills. Children create their own computer games, robots and learn how to use technology creatively. There are now over 1,000 clubs operating in various locations throughout the UK and this is expected to grow to over 5,000 clubs by the end of 2015. The organisation’s overall objective is to give every child in the UK the chance to learn code.

The organisation has received ringing endorsements from the father of the worldwide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Whether your child grows up to be the next Zuckerberg or not, the ability to understand basic programming concepts and think logically will prove invaluable. And it’s not just all about maths, or weird syntax. It teaches pivotal problem-solving, creativity, and communication skills. Not to mention, the fun children have learning it.

We are holding the first West Midlands meet-up to thank current Code Club volunteers for their support and meet with new ones.

The event will take place in our very own office here in Worcester. So if you are already running a club within the area, or if you are interested in hearing more about it, do drop in and say hi.