Barefoot Computing Project and BT help teachers get ready for new computing curriculum using the Hokey Cokey

BT brings ScratchJr, a new tool to develop young children’s computer programming skills, to UK primary schools 
Primary school teachers across England are being invited to learn how to explain the concept of algorithms to their classes using the Hokey Cokey and instructions for making a jam sandwich, thanks to a new series of computing workshops run by the Barefoot Computing Project.

The scheme aims to help primary school teachers implement the new computing curriculum which comes into force in September. It is being led by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in partnership with BT, and is funded by the Department for Education.
 The Barefoot Computing project will provide cross-curricular computer science resources for primary school teachers with no previous computer science knowledge. Teachers will gain an understanding of ideas and concepts such as algorithms, abstraction and data structures, how they occur naturally in many other disciplines they teach, and how they can be simplified to introduce these principles to children as young as aged 5.  
BT is also adding further support to the classroom by making ScratchJr, a new programming tool specifically aimed at 5-7 year olds, available in UK primary schools for the first time from this Autumn. 
Children can access the application, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), via iPads and use basic coding skills to create their own interactive stories and games. In doing so, children learn important design and problem-solving skills, as well as developing their numeracy and literacy abilities.
Primary heads and teachers will be taking part in the first UK demonstration of the application at BT’s headquarters in London today, at the first conference out of 800 free events taking place across England. These events will equip teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to incorporate the new computing curriculum into their lessons. 
Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: “Our new, forward-thinking, computing curriculum, backed by industry experts, will raise standards, show students how to make computers work for them and give them the skills and knowledge they need to compete with their peers from around the world.

“Teachers will be a key part of this and we want them to have the confidence and expertise to teach this exciting programme. That’s why we’ve invested more than £3million in innovative training schemes, like the Barefoot Computing project, which will help equip primary school teachers to deliver the new curriculum.” 

Commenting on the launch of the Barefoot Computing Project, Bill Mitchell, Director of Education at the Institute, said: “Based on what primary teachers who are already teaching the new computing curriculum are telling us, we believe that teaching children computing is not just important in its own right, it’s also important because it improves numeracy and literacy skills. What most people don’t realise is that computational concepts underpin much of what we do in our daily lives.  
“For example, making up a dance routine for something as simple as the Hokey Cokey to impress our friends, figuring out how to streamline a supply chain business process, developing a computer simulation to model how a new antibiotic will impact on the immune system, or just doing long multiplication, are all examples of using algorithms to solve problems. By demystifying concepts like algorithms we aim to give teachers the confidence that they can successfully teach the new computing curriculum to children from the age of 5.”
Dr Tim Whitley, MD Research & Innovation, BT Group, said: “BT has a long history of research and innovation. So we’re focused on developing the brightest minds in IT and technology and encouraging them to pursue it as a career. It’s vital that IT and coding skills are introduced to children at an early age so we’re proud to be supporting this scheme which will raise awareness and drive knowledge amongst both teachers and children. 
“We’re also taking action to engage young children in computer science by bringing ScratchJr to UK classrooms for the first time. This new application has been specifically designed to engage young children in learning the basics of computer programming in a fun and interactive way. We believe ScratchJr will act as the first stepping stone towards encouraging children to choose an exciting career in IT and technology later in life.”
Between now and May 2015, the Barefoot Computing project will hold a series of 800 computing workshops in primary schools across England. 
Run by volunteer professionals, including those from BT and the ICT and education sectors, these events will introduce the new computing curriculum to teachers and will explain the support available to them through Barefoot and other related projects.
The project will create primary school-friendly classroom resources that exemplify how to teach computing through topics that are relevant to the cross-curricula primary school environment. 
For example, the materials provided will cover how to write computer games and other classroom computing activities for children from Year 1 (age 5) to Year 6 (age 10/11) that also support progression in subjects such as literacy, maths, history and science. 
The resources will include teacher support notes, and in addition to the Barefoot workshops, the project team will also develop Barefoot communities enabling teachers to share ideas and good practice around teaching computing with other primary teachers.      Ends

Note to editors:
The Barefoot Computing project is one of several projects being run by BCS and CAS to help teachers prepare for September. Other projects include:

  • CAS Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science; a network of Master Teachers offering fellow teachers CPD training and support. It includes over 750 schools and 70 universities
  • QuickStart Computing, sponsored by Microsoft,  which will provide free off the shelf short CPD courses which can be run by teachers in school
  • Scholarships to encourage more people to become computing teachers

Further information about all the projects and how to get involved can be found at: www.bcs.org/academy orwww.computingatschool.org.uk or www.barefootcas.org.uk
ScratchJr is a collaboration between the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Playful Invention Company. The ScratchJr project has received generous financial support from the National Science Foundation, the Code-to-Learn Foundation, the LEGO Foundation, and BT. Further information can be found at http://www.scratchjr.org

About BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT:
Our mission as BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, is to enable the information society.  We promote wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice.  We bring together industry, academics, practitioners and government to share knowledge, promote new thinking, inform the design of new curricula, shape public policy and inform the public. 
Our vision is to be a world-class organisation for IT. Our 75,000 strong membership includes practitioners, businesses, academics and students in the UK and internationally. We deliver a range of professional development tools for practitioners and employees.  A leading IT qualification body, we offer a range of widely recognised qualifications.