Teachers encouraged to sign up for BT tech literacy programme

BT has today announced that the Barefoot Computing programme, designed to help teachers bring computer science to life in the classroom, has already reached nearly half of all primary schools across Northern Ireland.

Barefoot Computing Programme (4)

More than 1,400 teachers in 49 per cent of schools have already registered for the programme, the Barefoot Computing resources, which are funded by BT and supported by Computing at School (part of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT). Barefoot resources are available to all primary schools and aim to equip teachers with the confidence, knowledge, skills and assets to teach computer science to pupils from 5-11 years old including SEN.

The free programme, which has already delivered workshops across 396 primary schools in Northern Ireland, encourages pupils to use computational thinking in a fun and accessible way and the skills they develop can be used across the curriculum to help improve their maths, science and literacy.

Launched locally in December 2016, the programme, which is tailored to the Northern Ireland curriculum, provides teachers, who may not have specialist computing knowledge, with downloadable resources and lesson plans to help them educate primary school pupils in computer science. The resources promote problem-solving, creativity and collaboration among pupils.

Barefoot Computing Programme

Nicola Gunn, a teacher from Botanic Primary School, who has been using the resources, said: “The Barefoot programme has really brought computer science to life and made it both accessible and engaging for all the children. As teachers, we have been able to enhance their experiences through a clearer understanding of technology and we are now confidently able to deliver practical activities and help our pupils understand challenging concepts such as algorithms in a really enjoyable way.

“My pupils love how the lessons come alive when we use the beebot and they are discovering new concepts all the time. I highly recommend teachers who have not yet signed up for the Barefoot Computing programme to do so. It’s a fantastic resource and one which offers young pupils the chance to learn such important tech literacy skills while having fun.”

Jane Wood, BT Group UK nations and regions director, added: “I’m incredibly proud of how many teachers and children have been involved in the Barefoot programme and benefitted from the fantastic resources available.

“Increasingly, our jobs rely on people having digital skills. By 2022 the UK will need an additional 500,000 workers in digital industries, which is three times the number of computer science graduates the UK has produced in the last 10 years. The Barefoot programme not only delivers tech skills – but also life skills and selected resources can be translated into Irish.”

“Well done to all the teachers, the Barefoot team and of course to the thousands of pupils from across Northern Ireland who have made the programme the success it is today. We live in a world powered by technology. Let’s make sure the next generation can thrive in it and work together to get Barefoot to all of the nearly 170,000 primary aged children in Northern Ireland as fast as possible.”

Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Derek Baker, commented: “In today’s digital world, where business and social engagements are often conducted online, it is of paramount importance that young people learn computing skills from an early age.

“Digital skills are a key educational and economic driver for Northern Ireland, and one of the most transferrable skills for young people to have, enabling them to thrive in a digital age. The successful Barefoot programme from BT provides a wealth of free resources and lesson ideas aimed at supporting primary school teachers to develop the skills needed to deliver computing to their pupils. Many schools have benefited from the programme in recent years.

“I welcome the commitment that BT has shown to the education sector and its partnership with many schools through its Barefoot Computing Programme.”

To mark today’s announcement a new, vibrant Barefoot website has also been launched which provides even more lesson plans for teachers. A typical lesson plan consists of fun tasks which are designed to improve pupils’ understanding of concepts like algorithms in a way that improves their ability to think logically and sequentially but creatively. The website also includes a new lesson plan which helps educate pupils on using the internet safely and what ‘consent’ means in terms of controlling their personal information and identity.

Teachers and parents can find more information and get the free resources at https://barefootcomputing.org

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