North West business volunteers to support pupils to develop coding skills

A group of business volunteers from across the North West have joined forces to help support pupils and teachers to explore the art of computer coding as part of a new education initiative called Time to Code.

Time to Code, is a pilot volunteering programme run by Business in the Community in partnership with Code Club. It aims to help children at Key Stage 2 Level gain IT and coding skills, build their confidence, and develop their team working and problem solving abilities. The programme is supported by BT in the North West, and Belfast Harbour in the Greater Belfast Area.

Sarah Quinn, Programme Manager, Business in the Community, explains: “In today’s digital age, IT literacy is so important. Young people are growing up surrounded by technology, but many still lack the basic IT skills that future jobs will demand.

“Through working closely with our member companies, we identified a real need to help improve tech literacy in local schools, and also to inspire young people to want to develop skills in this area. Time to Code is being piloted in the North West, and Greater Belfast initially, and we hope to roll it out on a wider scale in the future.”

Volunteers in the North West come from a range of companies including Allstate, Seagate, Learning Pool and Fujitsu. There are six local schools participating in the project; St Eithne’s Primary School, St Paul’s Primary School, Sacred Heart Primary School, Ebrington Primary School, Lisnagelvin Primary School and Longtower Primary School.

Mairead Meyer, Managing Director, BT Networks Northern Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to support Time to Code in the North West. At BT, we are passionate about improving tech literacy – we want it to be a new cornerstone of modern education – something as important as reading and writing. Time to Code compliments our Barefoot Computing programme, which is helping primary schools teachers become more confident about teaching computer science and is another great way to bring tech to life for young people and set them up with the skills they need for the future.”

Una McDermott, Regional Coordinator for Northern Ireland at Code Club, said: “Code Club’s aim is to enable young people to make things with technology so that they can succeed in an increasingly digital world. We are excited to be working with Business in the Community to bring experienced IT volunteers to local schools to help inspire the next generation. Time to Code is an innovative initiative that will help us reach even more young people and equip them with the practical skills they need for the future.”

Code Club is a network of volunteers and educators working together to get the next generation excited about computing and digital making. It’s part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity that aims to help more people learn about computing. There are around 6,000 Code Clubs in the UK, and just over 250 in Northern Ireland. Young people attending Code Clubs learn to create their own games, websites and animations in a fun and stimulating environment.

Would your business like to get more involved in education, or would you like to volunteer for Time to Code? If so, please email sarah.quinn@bitcni.org.uk, or call (028) 7186 1550.