Barefoot boost for computing science in Scottish primary schools

A new national programme to help Scottish teachers inspire the next generation of digital entrepreneurs was unveiled by Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, today.

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, today launched a new national programme to help Scottish primary school teachers bring computer science to life in the classroom.

The launch of the Barefoot Computing Programme in Scotland has been developed by BT in partnership with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT*, working with Education Scotland. It aims to help teachers inspire and excite pupils aged from five about the world of computing.

Mr Swinney visited the Community School of Auchterarder to see a Barefoot workshop in action and unveiled the new online resources for teachers which have been tailored to the Scottish curriculum – with key content translated into Gaelic.

The free, downloadable resources and lesson plans are designed to help primary school teachers across Scotland, some of whom may not have specialist computing knowledge. The programme resources are aimed at improving teachers’ knowledge, skills and confidence regarding Computing Science.

The resources focus on concepts such as algorithms, abstraction, programming and data structures and provide ideas on how they can be used in the learning environment. They are now live on the Barefoot website at www.barefootcas.org.uk

Mr Swinney said: “The launch of the Barefoot Computing Programme is a fantastic example of industry supporting education in Scotland. It means a range of free online resources will now be available to help improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of primary teachers across Scotland in their delivery of Computing Science.

“Children today are growing up surrounded by digital technology and it has a huge effect on our economy and society. That is why we are working with partners to ensure the curriculum helps young people develop the digital and computing science skills that will be vital to them in this digitised world.”

The Barefoot Computing Programme provides access to a range of relevant and up-to-date support materials to help Scottish teachers deliver the Technologies area of the Curriculum for Excellence.

The partners plan to write to all primary school head teachers in Scotland to tell them about the new resources, which have won acclaim from teachers elsewhere in the UK.

Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, said: “Through our education engagement work, we know that primary school children really enjoy computer science – and that the thinking skills they gain can help in other subjects, including maths and science. Young people need these vital skills to thrive in our increasingly digital world.

“Our children grow up surrounded by technology, but too many have no idea how it all works – nor do they fully appreciate how it will shape their futures. They may look like savvy digital natives, but their knowledge is only screen-deep.

“BT’s tech literacy programme is designed to inspire young people to ‘get’ tech concepts and to find them exciting and relevant, but we’re also aware that teachers need to feel confident to support young people.

“That’s where the Barefoot Computing Programme comes in, and we’re looking forward to seeing it take shape in Scotland and having a real impact in our primary schools.”

Bill Mitchell, Director of Education at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said:

“Digital technology underpins not just how children go about their daily lives, but what they are capable of achieving as they grow up. That’s why this Barefoot Computing Programme, which we are partnering with BT on, is so important. It’s tremendous that great companies like BT are doing so much to help computer science improve children’s education.”

The free, simple-to-use resources and lesson plans can be easily shown to teachers in a workshop hosted inschool and delivered by a Barefoot volunteer, including specially trained BT volunteers. To download resources and request a workshop, teachers can register at www.barefootcas.org.uk


*Prior to 2009, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, was known as the British Computer Society.

Notes to editors

The Barefoot Computing Programme was established in 2014 with the original aim of helping 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 programme in 2015, with the continued support of BCS and CAS, and has been working to enable the resources and workshops to be available to all primary school teachers throughout the UK.

There are three main aspects of the Barefoot Computing Programme:

  • 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, the 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.

Barefoot Computing Programme is part of BT’s long-term commitment to help build a culture of tech literacy and use the power of communications to make a better world. As its first goal, BT aims to reach five million children by 2020. Find out more at www.bt.com/techliteracy