UK Digital Literacy to Receive Major Boost as 57k BBC micro: bit Coding Devices Donated to Primary Schools

LONDON – (BUSINESS WIRE) – The Micro: bit Educational Foundation, the organization behind the pocket-sized BBC micro: bit computer, has announced plans to help even more primary school children take their first steps into digital creativity and computing. In partnership with Nominet and the Scottish government, 57,000 BBC micro: bit devices will be donated to UK primary schools, alongside comprehensive teaching resources and online Continuing Professional Development courses.

As digital literacy and computing become increasingly important core skills, this major boost to teaching these subjects will see approximately 3,000 UK primary schools receive around 20 devices each. Support from the Scottish government will see every primary school in Scotland receive 20 devices, with the Foundation and Nominet working with primary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to prioritize 22,000 devices to those that need additional support the most. Delivery of devices will begin from April onwards.

Having launched in 2016, today there are 6 million BBC micro: bits being used by children all over the world, including most UK secondary schools. The Foundation has also seen growing adoption and demand from primary schools to teach 8 – 11-year-olds with the devices. With this major project, the Micro: bit Educational Foundation aims to boost usage in primary schools even further, providing the devices and resources to help teachers make coding exciting, accessible, and something they can teach confidently to younger children.

Teaching digital skills from a young age has impressive results and understanding computational thinking can greatly enhance a child’s creativity and life chances. However, research underpinning the project from the Micro: bit Educational Foundation and Nominet found that 61% of UK primary teachers responsible for teaching computing have no background in the subject, 3 in 5 also cite lack of resources as a barrier to teaching computing and digital skills.

Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the Micro: bit Educational Foundation, said: “Digital literacy and computational thinking are critically important not only to the future of our society, but to the future of children who will one day shape that society. They are increasingly important core skills, and we know that the earlier you learn them, the The BBC micro: bit has become an essential tool that teachers and students alike have come to love. We’ve seen fantastic adoption in secondary schools, and we’re delighted to support and empower even more teachers to unlock children’s creative potential at primary level. ”

Roll-out of the micro: bits will also complement a three-phase research program, as the Foundation looks to assess, monitor and address the challenges, concerns and successes UK primary teachers experience improving digital literacy and in bringing micro: bits into the classroom .

Interested teachers and schools can visit the Micro: bit Educational Foundation website for more information.

Adam Leach, CTO, Nominet, said: “We are so pleased to see the continued roll-out of micro-bits in classrooms across the UK, enabling so many more primary school children to explore and develop their skills in digital creativity and computing. It’s exciting to think about the potential passion for technology this program could set alight. On a practical level, it is really important that access to learning these essential skills is provided to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to discover, experiment and master them. Each one of the 57,000 devices will impact on developing children’s core digital skills as citizens of a digitalized world – and perhaps even put some of them on a pathway to help fill the digital skills gap in the UK’s digital workforce of the future. ”

ENDS

About Micro: bit Educational Foundation

The Micro: bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.

We do this by:

  • developing hardware and software that inspires young people to get excited about technology and the opportunities it presents for them

  • creating free, user-friendly educational resources to support teachers in delivering engaging and creative lessons

  • working with like-minded partners to deliver high-impact educational programs across the globe.

About Nominet

Nominet is a public benefit company, driven by a commitment to use technology to improve connectivity, security and inclusivity online. For 25 years, Nominet has run the .UK internet infrastructure, developing an expertise in the Domain Name System (DNS) that now underpins sophisticated threat monitoring, detection, prevention, and analytics that is used by governments to mitigate cyber threats. Our social impact program provides funding, support and opportunities to help tackle some of the most important digital issues facing young people in the UK today. www.nominet.uk

Note to editors

  • The micro: bit launched in the UK in 2016 by giving free devices to every year 7 students as part of BBC’s Make it Digital, an unprecedented and highly ambitious project. It is now not only being used in most secondary schools to teach 11 – 14-year olds but is also popular with primary school teachers for 8 – 11-year olds.

  • The Foundation has donated micro: bits to key institutions, including the National Center for Computing Education’s schools lending scheme in England, Digital Xtra Fund in Scotland, Ulster Universities and NI Libraries in Northern Ireland. Through these schemes, approximately 30,000 devices were donated directly to schools, libraries and NGOs.

  • The Foundation offered up to 5,000 micro: bits to families in the UK wanting to continue learning at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following a single tweet, the Foundation received 8,500 requests in 13 hours.

  • A key aim of the Micro: bit Educational Foundation was to bring the benefits of the micro: bit to children and teachers around the globe, and is being used in projects across Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Americas and Europe.

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