Learning the skills needed to succeed – Festival of Code 2015

Techknowledge for Schools looks at this year's Festival of Code event and how it ties with our specific coding research.

The next generation of coders are working at centres all over the country this week for Young Rewired State’s Festival of Code 2015. They are getting ready for the showcase in Birmingham this weekend to demonstrate their technical skills. This unique event, aimed at people 18 and under with a passion for coding, has been running since 2009 and been gaining more attendees each year from all over the globe.

In this free week-long event, the young attendees work together to create websites, games and apps to solve real-world problems, all using their coding skills.

“It’s a good opportunity for everyone who enjoys coding and making things to come together”

– A FoC attendee from last year.

This year’s festival is anticipated to be the biggest one yet, thanks in part to the introduction of Coding to the curriculum last September and the opening up of participation to centres in Europe for the first time.

The subject of the festival is of particular significance to Techknowledge for Schools. Back in 2014 we commissioned some specific research; Revisiting Coding with our schools, exploring how well prepared schools felt they were for the introduction of Coding to the curriculum.

Our research showed that in February 2014, before Coding was introduced in September, under half of the teachers surveyed felt confident in teaching this subject. Encouragingly our follow up research in October 2014, after Coding was introduced, revealed that eight out of ten teachers felt confident about it’s introduction. They understood that teaching Coding was relevant to their pupils and would help provide them with the skills they needed for the future.

However, it was felt that lack of resources, time for planning, effective training and CPD can create problems in successfully introducing Coding into the curriculum.

Are you a teacher? Do you feel the same? Have you had the same experience of growing confidence in this subject area? Or do you feel that lack of time, training and funding is putting you and your pupils at a disadvantage?

This is also the first Festival of Code since the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee report was released in February this year, highlighting the need for digital skills to be taught as a core subject in schools. Technical skills, the report argues, prepare children for necessary skills of the future, which makes events like the festival vital. It also comes after Nicky Morgan’s comments about schools needing to ‘build character’ in young people such as resilience, confidence and problem solving.  At Techknowledge for Schools our research indicates that these skills can be developed through the effective use of technology in the classroom. Read Why Mobile Learning for insights into our research findings.

As well as valuable technology skills, the attendees also learn teamwork, problem solving and confidence. In fact, working in teams and meeting new people seem to be a key theme of the event. “You work as a team…you can collaborate.” said one previous attendee. “I wanted to learn new skills…the skill of teamwork” stated another.

‘Apart from coding being a useful tool, the combination of the analytical, logical, creative and productive aspects of coding is a useful discipline across the curriculum. I think that we need to be mindful that we are not going to produce whole Year Groups of coders though as the media seems to suggest! We still need other aspects of computer and technology literacy.’

– IT Technician, Primary School – Revisiting Coding, Techknowledge for Schools

Young Rewired State is the largest global network of digital makers aged 18 and under.

One year on what are your thoughts about coding and the computing curriculum? Do you feel it brings the life skills that students need for the future, do you feel you equipped to teach it?

Let us know your thoughts about all things coding. Your comments, opinions and suggestions help us direct our research themes to support the subjects that are most important to schools when it comes to technology and knowledge.