A pilot project to bring computer coding to Jersey’s youngest students has been extended to eight more schools this term and will be rolled out to all States primary schools by the end of this year.
During the pilot, which was launched in September last year, computing and IT teachers from Hautlieu have shared their expertise with staff and students in primary schools. The first partners were St Martin and d’Auvergne schools, where young students are now designing their own apps and using computer programming skills to enhance their learning.
The project is led by Stuart Hughes, Deputy Head teacher at Hautlieu, who said: “The reaction has been fantastic. We already know that this has been a great success so we did not want to wait before giving other schools the opportunity to get involved. At St Martin’s and d’Auvergne, children as young as four are programming robots, games, apps and writing programs to control real-life systems such as lighthouses and ferris wheels. In view of this excellent response we have brought forward the roll-out to other primary schools.”
The aim of the project is to improve teachers’ computing skills and inspire students to use technology from the earliest possible age. It was set up to:
• Address the skill shortage in computing in primary schools
• Give staff extra skills to deliver computing to younger students
• Enthuse pupils to be the next generation of developers
• Develop wider skills, including numeracy and problem solving
The project will help schools deliver the new computing curriculum, which has been designed by an ESC team involving teachers and IT specialists from across the Island and will start in September 2014.
Cris Lakeman, Head Teacher of d’Auvergne Primary School, said: “We’ve really been surprised by how fast the children have moved forward. They have done so much more than we were expecting. The Hautlieu team have been working throughout the school from Nursery to Year 6 and for us it’s been hugely beneficial to share the skills of secondary teachers. The children absolutely love this project and the new skills have given our teachers extra confidence to really develop this subject area.”
Students have been designing a variety of their own programmes for a range of projects including toys, and have been putting them to use in other curriculum subjects such as French, numeracy and literacy.
Ms Lakeman added: “We have children as young as 10 inventing their own games and apps. They are even planning a personalised grammar checker to help them meet their own targets in English. It is just amazing to see what young children have achieved as a result of this project.”
Jenny Pryke, Deputy Head at St Martin’s School, added: “The primary coding project has been very well received by both teachers and pupils and has given us a strong base from which to move forward with the new computing curriculum. The children have been so engaged and motivated by what they are learning and the teachers are keen and enthusiastic to learn alongside them. Learning hasn’t just taken place in school; many children are excited to practise what they have learnt at home too.”
Director of Education Mario Lundy said: “This project has been an outstanding success. It has shown that creative use of new technologies can inspire students and help them achieve excellent results. It is also an excellent example of how teachers can work co-operatively and flexibly across our schools for the benefit of students.”
ESC Assistant Minister Deputy Rod Bryans added: “I would like to congratulate the Hautlieu team who have been outstanding and have led this vision. This project is a strong example of how Jersey is moving forward and is bringing together the Thinking Differently strategy, the Skills Strategy and the overall Digital Strategy for the Island to prepare our young people for the future.”