Twenty years ago, after-school clubs at primary schools would have involved a pen, a piece of paper, and maybe a crayon or two in the more adventurous schools. These days, primary school children are being taught how to make computer games, animations and websites before they head home at the end of the day.
Learning coding allows children to understand the technology that is increasingly shaping our world. Coding is what makes it possible to create apps, websites and computer software. The browser you are currently using, the apps on your phone, Facebook – they are all made with code.
There can be no doubt that children growing up in the UK today are more tech savvy than previous generations. We are moving deeper into a digital age of advancing technology, mobile apps and high speed internet. Are we evolving into a nation of digital experts?
This week volunteer network Code Club announced its plans for global expansion, aiming to have its coding communities in 50 per cent of the world’s countries by the end of 2018.
Code Club World is a network of after-school clubs run by volunteers in UK primary schools. Founded in 2012, the initiative now has more than 2,000 clubs throughout the UK and has taught 28,000 children to code in that time. The initiative, which relies on volunteers to go into local schools and deliver the projects that they design, is funded by Google and Raspberry Pi.
Many people may argue that teaching coding to such young children is unnecessary, but it is not just the digital skills that they will acquire. Teaching coding is teaching logic.
So, will we become a nation of coders? No. But that’s not what the brains behind the Code Club are trying to achieve. They recognise that not every single one of the 28,000 children that have attended the club so far will become a professional coder. Their aim is to equip young children with the digital skills to succeed in the modern world.
Digital skills and technological progress can drive innovation across all fields, from the sciences to the arts; across all careers, from doctors to mechanics.
Currently, any company without digital expertise will be falling behind their competitors. In twenty years time, companies without digital expertise may well be extinct.