Bridging the digital divide: coding clubs equip children for the future

4 May 2017

A Lendlease project is helping communities avoid digital marginalisation

Dan Labbad

Chief Executive Officer Europe

Tim Cook’s visit to a London primary school brought training the next generation of innovators to the fore once more. The Apple CEO was promoting coding classes as part of a push to equip children for jobs of the future by introducing it to school curriculums.

In the UK, coding clubs are providing an opportunity for children to be educated in the creation of computing programs. One of the largest of these networks is Code Club, currently operating more than 6,328 clubs throughout the UK and teaching some 88,000 (as at February 2018) primary children. The programme, run in collaboration with schools and community centres, teaches participants Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python through the production of games, animations and websites.

In 2015, Code Club partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to deliver its key educational programme. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed a series of credit-card-sized single board computers that allow a user to connect hardware such as a keyboard via USB – encouraging amateurs to explore computing.

The democratisation of technology is a key part of regeneration; it ensures communities do not experience digital marginalisation. Training and education infrastructure is one way to address this emerging demographic divide.

For example, Lendlease began working with Code Club and Southwark council in August 2016 to provide coding classes to Surrey Square primary school students. The programme is held at the Southwark Construction Skills Centre, a training facility established to tackle the skills shortage at Elephant Park.
In the UK, coding clubs are providing an opportunity for children to be educated in the creation of computing programs. Photograph: Lendlease
Iain Smith, communications manager at Elephant Park, and a regular volunteer, said: “It’s great that the club takes place at the Southwark Construction Skills Centre as it means that young people are getting onto our site and having a glimpse of the construction industry.”

The coding programme is run by a group of Lendlease volunteers and has grown to a cohort of 15 10-year-olds who participate in the club on a weekly basis. The students’ engagement continues to rise and Lendlease is now looking to roll out the scheme across all of its regeneration projects.

The club complements the school curriculum, furthering the children’s collaboration and mathematical skills Tracy Reid, senior sales consultant and volunteer at Elephant Park, said: “As a mother of two teenagers, I love the interaction with young people and seeing how happy they are when their coding comes to life. This is especially true when they’ve had to problem solve and have a dialogue to get the sequence to work. I have noticed a marked change in their social skills and the way they are able to interact with the adult volunteers and the other children.”

The club complements the school curriculum, furthering the children’s collaborative and mathematical skills.

Volunteer James Shannon, pre-construction director at Lendlease’s Faraday project, has three children and practices the exercises with them before teaching them to the class.

As London evolves, it is important that community interests do not fall by the wayside. Regeneration must create broad economic and social benefits including opportunities for communities to equip themselves with tools for the future.
Surrey Square primary school students. Photograph: Lendlease