Improved teacher confidence helps one million UK kids


BT plans to help five million young people by 2020 as part of its pledge to help build a culture of tech literacy for the nation

More than one million primary school pupils across the UK have now been reached through an education programme run by BT and BCS, called the Barefoot Computing project.

The news follows research by BT and Ipsos MORI revealing that nearly 80% of primary school teachers believe being tech literate is as important as reading and writing for children’s education and development. Despite this, three-quarters of teachers questioned said they don’t feel equipped to help educate primary school children in this key area of tech literacy and computing skills.

Barefoot offers free teaching-resources and volunteer-led training workshops, designed to help primary school teachers get more confident when teaching computer science and computing skills. More than 130,000 resources have been downloaded with over 35,000 teachers using them since the launch in 2014.

Liz Williams, BT’s Director of Tech Literacy, said: “BT is delighted Barefoot has reached this major milestone, because we know that the next generation’s life chances will be improved by being able to thrive in the digital world.”

Barefoot is part of BT’s Tech Literacy ambition and forms part of the long-term commitment by BT, unveiled in 2015, to help build a culture of tech literacy for the nation, reaching five million young people by 2020.

Research from Ipsos MORI and BT showed how important it is for the UK to step up its efforts on primary school tech literacy. Seventy eight per cent of primary school teachers think tech literacy is as important as reading and writing. Seventy five per cent strongly agreed it’s their job to prepare pupils for a digital world, but only 25 per cent strongly agreed they felt able to do that. Barefoot is designed to help address that need.

Dr Bill Mitchell, Director of Education at the British Computer Society and one of the founders of the Barefoot Computing Project, said: “A lot of people don’t realise that computational thinking concepts like logic, sequencing, abstraction and debugging now underpin much of what we do in our daily lives. Giving teachers the confidence to teach these concepts sets young people up to successfully navigate a whole host of real-world challenges.”

Deansbrook Junior School in north-west London is one of thousands across the country to have benefited from the programme.

To mark the achievement of reaching more than one million primary school pupils across the UK, BT went back to Deansbrook primary school to ask them how Barefoot is benefitting their school. Teacher Nicola Mitchell, said: “Our Barefoot volunteer helped us to view computing as a skill. That it's not just about the hardware and how we incorporate that, but that it is also about gaining computational skills, using a simple pencil and paper and the 'unplugged' thinking associated with that.”

There will also be a celebration event held at the BT Tower in London on Thursday, February 23rd. The event will see teachers and volunteers who have supported the project, coming together to share their experiences and explore how Barefoot could make an even greater impact in the future.

About the Barefoot Computing Project

The Barefoot Computing Project was created in 2014 by a coalition of partners, including the Department for Education, the British Computer Society, BT and Raspberry Pi. It gives primary school teachers free resources and training workshops on using the key concepts that underpin tech literacy. To find out more, access the resources or book a workshop visit www.barefootcas.org.uk

About tech literacy

Young people today grow up surrounded by tech. But too few know how it actually works, or the role it plays in their lives. They are often passive consumers rather than active creators. That matters in a digital world where personal and professional prospects are shaped by technology. So we need to build a culture of tech literacy starting with the next generation, setting young people up with the understanding and abilities needed to shape their futures. Find out more at www.techliteracy.co.uk