New national project to boost computing skills of Welsh primary school children

Calls have been made for primary schools throughout Wales to sign up to a project aimed at inspiring the next generation of digital business people.

The Barefoot Computing project aims to support primary school teachers in inspiring and exciting pupils aged five and above about the lucrative world of technology.

Launched last week by Welsh education secretary Kirsty Williams, the project will help boost the computing skills of Welsh primary school children.

It’s being funded and led by BT, which is working with the Welsh Government to ensure that the project is aligned with the Digital Competence Framework.

Kirsty Williams recently visited Cadoxton Primary School in Barry to get a glimpse into how the project works in practice. She also unveiled new online resources for teachers.

The resources are tailored to the Welsh curriculum in both English and Welsh, and can be downloaded from an online hub. They’ve been created to give primary school teachers a clear understanding of key IT topics.

The project is focusing on IT concepts such as algorithms, abstraction, programming and data structures and how they can be used in the classroom.

Kirsty Williams said: “Since becoming Education Secretary, one of my key priorities has been to raise the aspirations for all our children and young people, broadening horizons and developing ambition so that all can achieve.

“The DCF is an important milestone in achieving this goal as it provides the fundamental skills our children need in the modern world.

“I am therefore delighted to launch these free-to-use, creative resources which perfectly illustrate how digital skills can be integrated into the Welsh curriculum.”

Every primary school head teacher in Wales will be contacted by the Barefoot team to highlight the project. It’s already won acclaim from teachers elsewhere in the UK.

Alwen Williams, regional director for BT Cymru Wales, commented on the announcement: “Computing is a vital skill for the future prosperity of Wales.”

“Young people need these skills in order to thrive in our increasingly competitive and digital world while businesses and organisations of all sizes need recruits that are tech literate in order to succeed.

“Our children grow up surrounded by technology, but too many have little idea how it all works – their knowledge is only screen-deep.

She added: “BT’s tech literacy programme is designed to inspire young people to ‘get’ tech concepts and to find them exciting and relevant, but we’re also aware that teachers need to feel confident to support young people.

“That’s where the Barefoot Computing project comes in, and we’re looking forward to seeing it take shape in Wales and having a real impact in our primary schools.”

Bill Mitchell, who was responsible for originally creating Barefoot Computing in England, said: “It’s essential that all children develop computational thinking skills right from the start of primary school.

“By backing the Barefoot Computing project the Welsh Government has shown the leadership and vision necessary to ensure all primary schoolchildren in Wales now have the chance to develop those skills and as adults successfully compete in the global digital economy.”