Since September the study of computing – and specifically coding – became mandatory in all state primary and secondary schools.
At Benton Park Primary School the ten children, aged between nine and 11, have taken part in a pioneering five week project led by Marc McKiernan of the Haltwhistle Film Project.
(Coverage in the Chronicle and its website http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/benton-pupils-spearhead-digital-revolution-8276303)
Now the youngsters are set to pass on their knowledge to teachers as well as pupils at other schools in the region thanks to Bridge North East.
“It’s so important – not just at school – that children learn about coding. This programme can appeal to all children by focusing in on what they enjoy – it is really accessible to creative and mathematically minded children as it brings together arts, music, maths and science. We think it is right that they start young and believe that they are the best people to share their understanding with their peers and even teachers,” said Leila d’Aronville of Bridge North East.
Marc McKiernan was very impressed with the work of the Benton Park pupils. “The children all approached it differently,” he said. “Some of them laid out the stuff carefully. Others dived in. But they all finished at the same time. If they had been told to do it one way, some would have got left behind and some would have finished in five minutes and been sat there twiddling their thumbs.”
Although they learned about coding to produce video and music, the language of coding is universal and can be applied to any discipline, he explained.
Benton Park’s Headteacher Alice Witherow said: “I can vaguely remember doing little bits of coding at secondary school – but I was none the wiser. They take to it so easily. It seems like second nature to them.”
She added: “It’s about coding, but it’s also about confidence. It’s about resilience and problem solving. They have to help each other to solve problems and then they have to teach it to somebody else. We know that if you teach something to somebody else you get better at it.”
It is likely that Benton Park’s help to other schools will be gratefully received as around 160,000 UK primary school teachers get to grips with the language of algorithm and data.
Notes to Editors
Bridge North East
Sage Gateshead is part of a national network of 10 Bridge Organisations, funded by Arts Council England, to use their experience and expertise to connect children and young people with art and culture. They connect schools and communities with Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations and others in the cultural sector – including museums and libraries – all across the North East region.