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July 21, 2014

British schools are not prepared to teach coding

But can Ocado's new Code for Life tool give a helping hand?

By Ben Sullivan

With just six weeks until the new computing curriculum is introduced in UK schools, research has revealed that British primary school teachers are not fully prepared to teach their pupils how to code.

The poll of 250 English primary school teachers also reveals how 73% feel they have not been given the necessary resources – such as access to sufficient hardware, resources and training – to teach the new Computing curriculum from this September.

To help ready the teachers, Ocado Technology has launched an initiative called Code for Life. Ocado claims Code for Life will help equip pupils with the ‘skills needed to revolutionise the industries of tomorrow’.

Paul Clarke, director of technology at Ocado, said: "As a technology company at its core, Ocado relies on recruiting a constant stream of the brightest and best software engineers and other IT specialists to fuel its continued growth and disruptive innovation.

"We wanted to find a way to give something back by investing in the next generation of computer scientists, while hopefully increasing the number of girls selecting technology subjects.

At the hear of Ocado’s Code for Life tool is the Rapid Router web app. It aims to highlight the everyday application of coding while helping teachers meet the requirements of the new curriculum. It forms the first in a series of educational resources being created by Ocado Technology based on real life challenges within its business to inspire young people to take up a career in computer science.

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It will help pupils form a solid foundation to progress to the next level of coding by providing a seamless transition from Blockly, an easy-to-use visual programming language, to Python, a more complex, widely-used programming language. The Python extension will be available later in the academic year in an updated version of the web app, enabling children of mixed abilities and ages to tackle the same problem at different levels.

Paulina Koch, Ocado technology intern, said: "I’ve been working with developers from across Ocado Technology who’ve volunteered to build this resource after work and at weekends. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work with teachers and pupils to ensure the app delivers exactly what they need. Knowing it will be used by thousands of pupils around the country to gain skills that will benefit their future is a really exciting prospect."


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