socio-economic inequalities should never be a barrier to opportunity

Britain has always been at the forefront of technology. And with coding skills being fundamental to more than half of all jobs by 2035, it is crucial for today’s young people to have access to high quality STEM and IT education. Without it, they will not have the right skills to compete for careers and the UK’s leadership position will be jeopardised.

But, in a recent UK-wide YouGov survey commissioned by BJSS, 67% of all teachers said that they felt unable or uncomfortable with teaching coding because they lacked the right skills and tools to do so. This is fuelling inequality and is creating a digital class divide.

Often, because their parents cannot afford the financial outlay required, children from less-advantaged backgrounds don’t participate in private or extracurricular tuition, or they don’t enjoy access to computing equipment at home. It means that they possess fewer learning opportunities, and are often ill prepared to develop themselves for future careers in technology. It is these children, and their teachers, that BJSS aims to help.

OUR CSR THEMES ARE YOUTH AND TECHNOLOGY

In 2017, by working closely with our CSR partners, BJSS successfully delivered these community outcomes:

School Children benefitted from free coding lessons

  • Young women benefitting from the programme 52%
  • Children from less-advantaged family backgrounds 49%

School teachers received free training in coding

  • Teachers working in schools outside of London 72%
  • Teachers with high ratios of disadvantaged pupils 56%

FREE CODING LESSONS FOR CHILDREN FROM LESS-ADVANTAGED BACKGROUNDS

HOW THIS BENEFITS OUR COMMUNITIES

Turinglab is dedicated to teaching fundamental coding skills to British school children. BJSS partners with Turinglab to provide free coding lessons to children from less-advantaged backgrounds in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, Glasgow and London. Free training is offered to teachers in these cities too. In addition to funding this programme, we also provide Turinglab with pro-bono commercial, technical and engineering support.

Aiming to improve STEM education in the UK, Turinglab was founded in 2015 and is dedicated to teaching essential coding skills to school children.

The organisation was conceived when four students of Computer Science at Imperial College London volunteered in local schools to teach children how to code. They built a computer-based learning system which, when supported by a student from a local university like themselves, would take a child from having no coding experience, to having the skills to build their own computer game in 10 weeks.

THIS YEAR WE WILL:

  • Increase the financial element of our support to Turinglab, helping schoolchildren from less-advantaged backgrounds to learn to code.
  • Extend the programme to Nottingham, Glasgow and London, in addition to our existing programmes in Leeds, Manchester and Bristol and provide free training to teachers in these cities.
  • Nurture future industry diversity by dedicating at least one quarter of our scholarships to young women.
  • Continue to provide Turinglab with pro-bono technical, engineering and commercial support, primarily from our award-winning Manchester Delivery Centre.

WINNER OF THE 2018 BETTER SOCIETY AWARDS

With pro-bono engineering support from BJSS, Turinglab has heavily updated its learning system. This partnership has helped Turinglab to deliver Britain’s first curriculum-linked creative coding platform to advance digital skills education, in addition to introducing cutting-edge automated student assessment functionality. Based on the tangible impact of our pro-bono support to Turinglab, BJSS was named Pro-Bono Company of the Year in the 2018 Better Society Awards.

PREPARING YOUNG WOMEN FOR CAREERS IN TECHNOLOGY

HOW THIS BENEFITS OUR COMMUNITIES

The Make the Grade programme focuses on bringing ideas and inspiration through real-life, hands-on experiences about future career paths. With #GirlTechLCR, workplace visits, primary to college-level activities, and interview coaching, BJSS helps young women to develop their digital skills and learn about career opportunities in technology.

Make the Grade partners employers with education to equip young people with the skills they need for work and help them make informed career choices. This proven, externally validated model is supported by some of the UK’s largest employers, the Department for Education (DfE), government and the European Commission.

Through Make the Grade, BJSS aims to raise awareness of the variety of roles and skills needed for careers in the digital sector. 

By engaging with young women from all backgrounds, our people act as mentors and champions of diversity, supporting their aspirations to succeed in the digital sector.

“It has helped me to have more of an understanding about the careers in technology and what is available to me.”

“I’ve learnt that you can do whatever you want and you should always chase your goals.”

“I have learned about many new jobs and that GCSEs and qualifications really matter.”

working with schools in leeds to nurture technical skills

HOW THIS BENEFITS OUR COMMUNITIES

The LEP aims to stimulate growth and create jobs and prosperity for everyone who lives, works and does business in BJSS’ home city of Leeds. Our role on the LEP is to improve digital skills at local schools, and we achieve this by delivering practical support. For example, BJSS dedicates a team of its people to mentor students of the South Craven School, helping them to progress through BTEC Unit 22 – Developing Computer Games. We also engaged Turinglab to deliver coding lessons to students of the South Craven and Cockburn schools.

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) works with public and private sector partners to provide support and funding to help businesses grow, attract new investment to the region and develop the skills, energy and digital infrastructure to create jobs and prosperity.

BJSS sits on the Employment and Skills Panel which brings employers together with local authorities and skills providers. The panel oversees projects to address skills gaps in the city region’s key industry sectors, and creates local leadership that drives improvements in skills and employment. 

Just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you for providing the workshop at South Craven School yesterday. The feedback from staff and students has been very positive! It is something we will want to do again in the future.

Karen Higson

Advice and Guidance Officer / Pinnacle Coordinator, South Craven School