Belfast Harbour celebrates successful Time to Code partnership

More than 2,000 pupils from over 100 schools right across Northern Ireland have taken part in an initiative designed to help give children their first taste of the coding skills needed to pursue a career in the tech sector, a review released today has shown.

Time to Code is a programme developed and delivered over a three-year period by Business in the Community NI in partnership with Belfast Harbour and the Department for Education to improve computer coding skills among pupils aged 7 to 11.

Delivered free of charge and with the help of charity Code Club, and more than 100 volunteers from the private sector, Time to Code aimed to meet a need for a structured, formal programme of coding teaching in local primary schools.

The programme, which is continuing to support schools throughout the 2021/22 academic year, has achieved significant impacts for all stakeholders involved. The most notable outcomes have been accrued by the pupils who participated, with a tangible increase in awareness of coding and online security, an increased likelihood they will seek to explore coding further, higher educational attainment in areas such as problem solving, increased understanding of potential future career opportunities and higher confidence and self-esteem.

Teachers and principals were also very positive about its impacts on pupils and schools, while some volunteers noticed an increase in enthusiasm for teaching the topic and improvements in their own general well-being.

In total, in the past three years, 2,207 pupils from 102 schools participated in the programme.

Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour said: “Belfast Harbour has a long history of investing in innovation and as we look to the future, we see initiatives such as Time to Code as essential tools for enthusing a new generation of young people and equipping them with the skills that will be needed in Northern Ireland’s economy. As a Smart Port and key partner in Belfast’s Innovation District we know how important the tech and digital sectors already are to the city and we are proud to have supported a programme with such tangible benefits, not only for the students, but also for their teachers and the volunteers from the tech industry.”

Ciara Mulgrew, Programme Executive, Business in the Community, said: “The Time to Code programme has provided an amazing opportunity to open the eyes of primary school children and teachers to the possibilities that exist in the tech world. Coding is so important in today’s digital age and having the chance to build and shape code and create a finished product will be an invaluable experience for them.

“It has also allowed the pupils to develop many key soft skills, which are valued by employers; things like problem solving, team building and communication skills.

“On behalf of BITCNI, we want to thank everyone who was involved in Time to Code. Without the support from Belfast Harbour, the Department for Education, Code Club and Programme Coordinator for Ireland, Darren Bayliss, and all of the incredible volunteers, who have helped us try and test new approaches and deliver the sessions in person and online, it could not have been the success that it was.”