ARM backs 1,000 after school clubs to help children learn to code in the UK

ARM backs 1,000 after school clubs to help children learn to code in the UK

Code Club, a network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9 to 11 in the UK, has received its first real sponsorship today in the form of British smartphone chip designer ARM.

The company has announced today that it will support and fund up to 1,000 additional after school clubs, thereby helping more than 15,000 children at primary schools to learn the basics of writing computer programs. An extra 12 clubs will be setup by ARM’s own “world-leading developer talent” at primary schools around the company’s UK offices.

Code Club currently supports 535 after school clubs across the UK through awards and private donations. It’s mostly volunteer-led though, meaning that school teachers are working with programmers who already work either full-time, part-time or freelance in the industry.

As a result of today’s partnership with ARM, Code Club has announced that it aims to have after school clubs in a quarter of all primary schools across the UK by 2015. The initiative’s lofty target is therefore set at 5,000 for now, which is still a significant gap even with the new ARM-funded clubs included.

Computer science is in a difficult period in the UK at the moment. Up until the end of compulsory education, the IT curriculum has consisted not of the basics surrounding computer programming and coding, but how to use common software packages such as Microsoft Office.

The problem, of course, is that as soon as these programs are updated, or are replaced by something undeniably better, the curriculum becomes largely irrelevant. It also means that fewer children are growing up with any sort of knowledge or experience with coding, thereby stunting the growth of IT startups in the UK.

Education secretary Michael Gove has tried to address this in all fairness, announcing only last week that computer science would become one part of the English Baccalaureate from January 2014.

Initiatives like Code Club, however, are vital for re-emphasizing the need for computer programming in schools, and also getting children interested in the subject – regardless of what the national curriculum looks like.

“The UK is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies, creating technology that lies at the heart of familiar and iconic digital products,” Stephen Pattison, vice president, Public Affairs, ARM said. “For the UK to continue to be a world leader in this area, we must inspire and educate the next generation, not only about the use of technology but also about how technology actually works.”

Code Club has also announced today that HRH The Duke of York is now the patron of the network, and will play an important role in raising public awareness about the movement.

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