Turinglab, Ada and BJSS pilot the UK’s first curriculum-linked creative coding platform to advance digital skills education
1 Aug, 2017

Turinglab, an organisation dedicated to teaching fundamental coding skills to school children, has partnered with Ada, the National College for Digital Skills to develop and pilot the UK’s first creative coding platform aligned to the national computing curriculum. BJSS, the award-winning, delivery-focused IT consultancy supported Turinglab to develop this platform.

During the six-week summer pilot, Ada spearheaded the rollout of Turinglab’s learning platform to 30 schools across the UK. Over 1,000 students – more than double the initial target of 500 – benefited from this learning. Taking feedback from the pilot, Ada and Turinglab will further develop the platform before making it available to schools across the UK later this year.

The move is an essential step in supporting the national curriculum for computing, helping students develop the knowledge and skillsets needed to address the current digital skills gap in the UK economy. The platform, developed by Turinglab with pro-bono software development and testing support provided by BJSS, uses a mix of gamification and creative project-based software tools to help improve digital teaching standards and open up future technology career and apprenticeship opportunities.

The Turinglab online platform will help students in early secondary school (KS3 and KS4) learn fundamental coding skills mapped directly to the national curriculum. It is designed specifically for younger students and is based upon 18 months working with children learning to code, as well as input from a number of influential computing educators, including Mark Dorling, co-author of the KS1-3 CAS Computing Progression Pathways, and Peter Kemp, advisor for the new KS4 curriculum.

Turinglab created the platform, with support from BJSS’ dedicated teams in Leeds and Bristol. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) provided supporting funding through a grant to Ada’s online learning umbrella, Ada Advance Initiatives.

Glynn Robinson, MD at BJSS, said: “We are delighted to support this fantastic initiative. Organisations like Turinglab and Ada play an essential role in passing on the skills that children need to thrive in the digital age. By combining our support with Ada’s reach, Turinglab has ensured that hundreds of children from all walks of life, and educators across the country, benefit from engaging learning which is mapped to the national curriculum.”

Sam Green, Founder of Turinglab, said: “This new platform is an important step for all involved. It enables Ada, as the National College for Digital Skills, to honour their commitment to advancing best practice for the teaching and learning of digital skills; it allows BJSS, our industry collaborator, to invest in technology and young people with credible partners driving real change; and it accelerates Turinglab’s ability to empower children across the country with fundamental digital skills through creative coding.”

Mark Smith, CEO of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, adds: “We are excited that the partnership with Turinglab has yielded a robust platform for students to start coding creatively. Learning digital skills doesn’t just start at sixth form — from a young age, students are already developing the skillsets and mindsets that will drive the UK’s increasingly digital economy. As our first online learning venture under Ada Advance Initiatives, this platform is a strong first step toward Ada fulfilling its remit as a truly national college.”


Notes to Editor:

  1. Students learn and practice a set of core coding skills. They are then challenged to create a project of their own, typically a game or application, to reinforce their learning by applying it directly to a problem.
  2. The platform has been designed with the teacher in mind and is to be used in conjunction with traditional teaching methods. Soon the platform will allow teachers to be able to monitor student progress across common areas of subject misconceptions. These analytics will provide greater understanding of their classrooms and enable more effective and targeted intervention.
  3. In February 2017, BJSS announced a community investment partnership with Turinglab which will see BJSS finance 100 Turinglab scholarships each year for children from low income families. The first ten children to qualify for these scholarships have recently completed their learning ahead of a wider rollout to Leeds and Manchester in the autumn and Bristol in January.
  4. The February 2017 announcement also confirmed that BJSS would play a key delivery role to Turinglab, providing the organisation with pro-bono software development expertise, in addition to marketing and commercial support. The technical expertise and development support required for Turinglab and Ada represents the first stage of this commitment.
  5. Jo Moran, IT Teacher, St.Pauls Girls School (Number 1 Secondary in the UK): “Turinglab have provided a very useful tool which has encouraged the girls to work independently at KS3 through to GCSE level providing a structured and enjoyable way to learn and develop their coding skills.”
  6. Cris Baptiste, ICT & Computing Teacher, Saint Gabriel’s College (Ranked 10,244 of 14,534 Secondary in the UK): “In the short time my students have taken part in the Turinglab pilot, general interest in computer science has grown, with several asking for the pilot to continue after the summer holiday. The platform has a lot to offer – from colourful drawings and interactive animations to programming exercises and online quizzes bringing computer science theory to life. The great news for me has been an increase in the number of girls now showing interest, and the programming languages used by Turinglab, being Python and Javascript, fit in perfectly with the next phase of studies at GCSE level.
  7. If you teach coding in your classroom, or at a school or holiday club – register interest at www.turinglab.co.uk/online.


BJSS Corporate Communications Contacts:

Public Relations Advisors to BJSS
Tel:  +44 20 3725 2339
Email: bjss@mww.com

David Clark
BJSS Media Relations
Tel: +44 20 7337 9800
Email: david.clark@bjss.com


About BJSS:

BJSS (www.bjss.com) is an award-winning delivery-focused IT Consultancy. With over 20 years’ software development and IT advisory experience, the company is renowned for technical excellence, cost-effective delivery and its proven BJSS Enterprise Agile approach.

About Turinglab:

Turinglab is an education technology organisation working to empower the next generation with digital skills. We develop software and teaching resources to support more engaging and educational computing classes – some of which we run ourselves.

Turinglab works closely with leading academic institutions to deliver its mission more effectively – working, for example, with Imperial College London to provide outreach courses that aim to increase diversity in technology. Turinglab is also on the inaugural EDUCATE cohort, a UCL / NESTA / BESA partnership aiming at equipping EdTech organisations with the skills needed to develop robust education interventions.

About Ada, the National College for Digital Skills:

Ada, the National College for Digital Skills was announced by the Prime Minister in December 2014. It is England’s first new Further Education College since 1993 and opened doors to students in September 2016. It offers a sixth form as well as a higher level apprenticeship degree programme in conjunction with some of the UK’s biggest names in industry.

Ada’s mission is to work with industry to design and deliver an education that empowers all its students, especially women and those from low-income backgrounds, to progress into highly skilled digital roles and lead flourishing lives. Ada is focused on using digital skills as a tool for social mobility.

For more information on Ada contact press@adacollege.org.uk