23 May 2022

National roll-out of micro:bits to Scotland’s primary schools

The following article originally appeared on Micro:bit Educational Foundation website on 23rd May 2022.


Scotland’s Education Secretary celebrates world-leading investment in Computing Science at primary age with school visit. Methilhill Primary School in Fife, Scotland, welcomed Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville, for a visit to meet children using the new micro:bit coding devices. The tiny computers are being given to all primary, secondary and additional support needs schools in Scotland as part of a landmark investment to improve the quality of, and participation in, computing science and digital literacy in Scottish schools.

Delivered by education non-profit, The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, the micro:bits are pocket-size entry-level coding devices that offer children an enjoyable entry into coding and computing science. There are over six million devices already in use across the globe, including most UK secondary schools. In the coming weeks, all primary schools across Scotland will receive twenty devices alongside a host of new teaching resources tailored for primary school level in a world-leading investment from the Scottish Government to develop digital skills in even younger children.

During her visit, Somerville saw the devices come to life in the hands of children aged between 6-8 in an exciting, interactive lesson around health and wellbeing. micro:bit ambassadors shared an insight into the wide range of capabilities the nifty devices offer, while teachers at the school explained first-hand how the new investment is helping integrate digital skills and computational thinking into lessons across the entire curriculum as part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review programme.

Investing in future skills

Digital skills and computational thinking can greatly enhance a child’s creativity and life chances. However, recent research from The Micro:bit Educational Foundation found that 61% of primary school teachers in the UK responsible for teaching computing have no background in the subject, while three in five cite lack of resources as a barrier to teaching computing.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Scottish Government: “It has been inspiring to see first-hand how these devices can help to get children thinking creatively and to be enthused about technology. It’s an exciting prospect to imagine these scenes being replicated in schools all over Scotland in the coming weeks and months, and we’re proud to be leading the world in creating quality engagement in computing sciences among our young learners.”

Aimée Fagan, Head of Partnerships at Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said: “Digital literacy and computational thinking are increasingly important core skills, and we know the earlier you learn them, the better. Today has been a brilliant showcase of the possibilities micro:bits offer in the hands of younger children and how accessible they can make the first steps into computing.”

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Alix Rolland, Deputy Head Teacher at Methilhill Primary School, added: “We’re committed to embedding computing science and digital literacy into our classrooms, right across the curriculum. It’s been a joy to see the first of many micro:bit sessions at Methilhill Primary School today, and the support from Micro:bit has given our teachers the tools and confidence they need to get our children inspired by technology.”

About Micro:bit Educational Foundation

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.

We do this by:

·      developing hardware and software that inspires young people to get excited about technology and the opportunities it presents for them

·      creating free, user-friendly educational resources to support teachers in delivering engaging and creative lessons

·      working with like-minded partners to deliver high-impact educational programmes across the globe.

The micro:bit launched in the UK in 2016 by giving free devices to every S1 / Year 7 student as part of BBC Make it Digital, an unprecedented and highly ambitious project. It is now not only being used in most secondary schools to teach 11 – 14-year olds but is also popular with primary school teachers for 5 – 11-year olds.

The Foundation has donated micro:bits to key institutions, including the National Centre for Computing Education’s schools lending scheme in England, Digital Xtra Fund in Scotland, Ulster Universities and Libraries NI in Northern Ireland.  Through these schemes, approximately 30,000 devices were donated directly to schools, libraries and NGOs.

The Foundation offered up to 5,000 micro:bits to families in the UK wanting to continue learning at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following a single tweet, the Foundation received 8,500 requests in 13 hours.

Editorial enquiries

You can contact the Micro:bit Educational Foundation at [email protected]

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04 May 2022

How CGI’s commitment to diversity is providing opportunities for the next generation of Scots to forge careers in tech

The following was written by CGI, and originally posted in Business Scotland.


The technology sector is flourishing. Opportunities that come with skilled jobs are continuing to grow apace. But for some, that world of opportunity can still feel light years away.

That is why companies like CGI have committed themselves to not only invest in a skilled workforce, but also make sure that workforce is diverse, with opportunities to show their talent in an equal and inclusive workplace.

In Scotland today, the hunt is on to find the next generation of coders, cyber security experts and systems engineers. Since CGI established its presence north of the border, it has built up its own diverse workforce thanks to its commitment to investing in a skilled workforce.

It does so through its recruitment of apprentices. In 2012, the global IT business consulting services company introduced its Graduate Apprenticeships Programme to Scotland. The programme sees CGI work in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University to attract young people with a passion for technology.

Students study towards a four-year BSc Honours degree – in Software Development at Glasgow Caledonian or IT Management for Business at Napier – while also spending time to develop their career on real-life projects at the company, which has offices in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Those chosen are given a permanent contract from Day One, with a paid starting salary of £19,000. Maria Whittingham, Early Careers Recruitment Specialist at CGI, says such a starting salary provides a huge opportunity for people who might otherwise not consider a career in STEM due to the cost of a more traditional university education.

She said: “CGI is all about providing opportunities for students from every type of background, and this is a brilliant opportunity for people to progress their careers as well as their education.

“The way these opportunities are structured is meant to be totally inclusive: it takes into account those who may have different learning styles, and who in fact benefit far more from complementing their learning with real-life experience in a work setting.

“So at CGI, we are both growing our own talent and widening our outlook, perspectives and viewpoints because our workforce has become much more diverse.”

CGI currently has eight graduate apprentices in Scotland. Glasgow Caledonian’s Software Development for Business course is more technology based while Napier’s is an IT Management for Business degree.

Maria continued: “There are also technical graduate opportunities for people with an interest in IT, software development and software testing. For these roles we accept graduates from all degree disciplines but they do need to show some evidence of skills like programming.

“People with STEM degrees tend to go for technology posts, but we have also had people from other degree backgrounds who have an interest in programming. For them, we provide all the training they need when they join the company.”

Within CGI, the company is determined to break the gender bias in technology. Nearly 4 in 10 members of its senior leadership team in the UK are women, while more than 90% of female staff –– known as members – put forward for promotion were successful this year.

CGI recently joined the Valuable 500 – a global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda. Its own peer-to-peer network enables members with different disabilities or areas of interest to share ideas and provide mutual support.

CGI’s peer-to-peer network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members emphasises the importance of celebrating various cultures within CGI, while its LGBT+ network supports and represents UK members from all minority sexual orientations and gender identities.

The organisation has been shortlisted for Targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2022 for best diversity and inclusion strategy, best school leaver programme, best on-boarding experience and best virtual recruitment experience. Each award is voted on and determined exclusively by students, undergraduates and school leavers.

Additionally, CGI backs charities such as Digital Xtra Fund, who enable extracurricular tech activities for young people across Scotland and encourages young girls from all backgrounds to join coding clubs which inspire them to consider careers in digital tech.

One example is Southmuir Primary School, in Kirriemuir, Angus, which used a £5,000 grant provided by the Fund to set up a club exclusively for 32 girls from P4 to P7 – who otherwise might never have encountered such an opportunity – to enjoy engaging ways to learn to code. It was so popular that the school also set up an equivalent club for boys.

Karen-Ruth Phillips, PT Raising Attainment at Southmuir Primary, said: “The club has fostered a really fun way of learning coding and STEM, through receiving digital badges and certificates which they earn for completing different levels of their Code.org course.

“Engagement levels have been really high and the girls especially have not only enjoyed it themselves, they have even got their parents looking into additional coding and STEM activities.”

Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s Partnerships and Development Manager, said: “Our goal is for every young person in Scotland to have access to innovative and meaningful activities, regardless of their gender, background, or where they live. This goal has been encapsulated perfectly by the excellent STEM club at Southmuir.”

Lyndsey Teaz, Vice President and Scotland Business Unit Leader (Interim), said: “CGI believes passionately in supporting the communities in which we live and work and it has never been more important to encourage talent and innovation in our sector.

“It is tremendous to see so many young people from all over the country, from different backgrounds. I personally, being a woman in tech, am delighted to see more young girls developing a huge enthusiasm for STEM education.

“We are committed to helping more and more people on their journey and we look forward to seeing the results over the coming months and years.”

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21 Apr 2022

Edinburgh Science Festival: Children trained in coding to block cyber attacks

The following was written by Rachel Keenan, and originally posted in Edinburgh Live.


Edinburgh Science Festival continues with more interactive events for children, including coding sessions to teach kids how to evade hackers.

Children are being taught how to halt hackers in an exclusive coding event running at Edinburgh Science Festival

Information technology company CGI has been holding the coding sessions in a bid to teach youngsters digital skills to block cyberattacks.

The company has offered these interactive drop-in MicroCoders mini-sessions as part of the Datasphere exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland.

Supported by Digital Xtra Fund, the event involved giving children five minutes to use a micro:bit programming interface to generate an encryption key to stop hackers from stealing important data.

The fund has awarded grants of up to £5,000 to initiatives across Scotland including MicroCoders to appear at this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival.

The charity aims to help children aged 16 and under develop digital skills by offering grants to extracurricular tech initiatives across Scotland.

Teaching digital skills in an engaging and interactive way is at the forefront of the charity’s mission.

Since its creation in 2016 Digital Xtra Fund has awarded £725,000 to 102 initiatives to support teaching children about digital fields.

Westaly Duignan, Senior Development Manager at Edinburgh Science, said: “As an educational charity, Edinburgh Science values the importance of providing immersive and thought-provoking STEM opportunities for young people.

“We were delighted to receive funding from Digital Xtra Fund, which is supported by CGI, to develop and run our drop-in MicroCoders activity at this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival, which allows young people to meet and learn from cyber security and digital skills professionals.

“MicroCoders is a taster version of a larger STEM careers event we run in November, designed to inspire 3,000 young people to consider the fields of science and technology, employment opportunities in STEM industries and the many possibilities that studying these subjects can bring.”

The coding event is running until April 24 at the National Museum of Scotland.

To know more about Edinburgh Science Festival’s MicroCoders activity and other initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund for the year 2021/23, visit: Round VI (2021/2022).

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31 Mar 2022

Digital skills to receive major boost as 57,000 micro:bits are donated to Primary Schools

The following article originally appeared on businesswire.com on 30 March 2022.


The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Nominet, will donate 57,000 micro:bits across UK primary schools. Support from the Scottish Government will see every primary school in Scotland receive devices while England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will prioritise primary schools that require additional support. With many secondary schools now using micro:bits in the classroom, the project aims to boost support for younger children and provide  teacher resources.

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, who is the organisation behind the single-board microcontroller, has announced plans to help even more primary school children take their first steps into digital creativity and computing. In addition to the donation of hardware, comprehensive teaching resources and online Continuing Professional Development courses will also be made available.

As digital skills and computing become increasingly important core skills, this major boost to teaching these subjects will see approximately 3,000 UK primary schools receive around 20 devices each. Support from the Scottish Government will see every primary school in Scotland receive 20 devices, with the Foundation and Nominet working with primary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to prioritise 22,000 devices to those that need additional support the most. Delivery of devices will begin from April onwards.

Having launched in 2016, today there are 6 million micro:bits being used by children all over the world, including most UK secondary schools. The Foundation has also seen growing adoption and demand from primary schools to teach 8 – 11-year-olds with the devices. With this major project, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation aims to boost usage in primary schools even further, providing the devices and resources to help teachers make coding exciting, accessible, and something they can teach confidently to younger children.

Teaching digital skills from a young age has impressive results and understanding computational thinking can greatly enhance a child’s creativity and life chances. However, research underpinning the project from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet found that 61% of UK primary teachers responsible for teaching computing have no background in the subject, 3 in 5 also cite lack of resources as a barrier to teaching computing and digital skills.

Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said: “Digital literacy and computational thinking are critically important not only to the future of our society, but to the future of children who will one day shape that society. They are increasingly important core skills, and we know that the earlier you learn them, the better. The micro:bit has become an essential tool that teachers and students alike have come to love. We’ve seen fantastic adoption in secondary schools, and we’re delighted to support and empower even more teachers to unlock children’s creative potential at primary level.”

Roll-out of the micro:bits will also complement a three-phase research programme, as the Foundation looks to assess, monitor and address the challenges, concerns and successes UK primary teachers experience improving digital literacy and in bringing micro:bits into the classroom.

Interested teachers and schools can visit the Micro:bit Educational Foundation website for more information.

Adam Leach, CTO, Nominet, said: “We are so pleased to see the continued roll-out of micro:bits in classrooms across the UK, enabling so many more primary school children to explore and develop their skills in digital creativity and computing. It’s exciting to think about the potential passion for technology this programme could set alight. On a practical level, it is really important that access to learning these essential skills is provided to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to discover, experiment and master them. Each one of the 57,000 devices will impact on developing children’s core digital skills as citizens of a digitalised world – and perhaps even put some of them on a pathway to help fill the digital skills gap in the UK’s digital workforce of the future.”

About Micro:bit Educational Foundation

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.

We do this by:

  • developing hardware and software that inspires young people to get excited about technology and the opportunities it presents for them
  • creating free, user-friendly educational resources to support teachers in delivering engaging and creative lessons
  • working with like-minded partners to deliver high-impact educational programmes across the globe.

Note to editors

  • The micro:bit launched in the UK in 2016 by giving free devices to every year 7 student as part of BBC’s Make it Digital, an unprecedented and highly ambitious project. It is now not only being used in most secondary schools to teach 11 – 14-year olds but is also popular with primary school teachers for 8 – 11-year olds.
  • The Foundation has donated micro:bits to key institutions, including the National Centre for Computing Education’s schools lending scheme in England, Digital Xtra Fund in Scotland, Ulster Universities and Libraries NI in Northern Ireland. Through these schemes, approximately 30,000 devices were donated directly to schools, libraries and NGO’s.
  • The Foundation offered up to 5,000 micro:bits to families in the UK wanting to continue learning at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following a single tweet, the Foundation received 8,500 requests in 13 hours.
  • A key aim of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation was to bring the benefits of the micro:bit to children and teachers around the globe, and is being used in projects across Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Americas and Europe.
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30 Mar 2022

CodeClan partners with Baillie Gifford to launch youth academy

The following article appeared on insider.co.uk on 25 March 2022.


Scotland’s national digital skills academy CodeClan has partnered with Baillie Gifford, who have also supported Digital Xtra Fund’s grant awards programme since 2018, to launch a new youth-focused programme. The CodeClan Youth Academy will be aimed at young people aged 17 and over, providing them with programming skills required in an industry environment.

The eight-week course will be based in Edinburgh and include a four-week coding bootcamp at CodeClan followed by a four-week paid internship at an industry partner. With 10 spaces available in the first cohort, the programme starts on 4 July. CodeClan reckons students completing the course will be able to carry out tasks equivalent to the role of a junior front-end developer.

The bootcamp section at CodeClan will include training in HTML and CSS, presentation skills, JavaScript, NodeJS, and introductions to user experience and Angular.

Yvonne Robertson, chief of information systems staff at Baillie Gifford, said: “We believe it’s crucial that we all play a part in developing our young workforce and addressing the current digital skills gap by providing insight into the range of career opportunities within the technology sector.

“As an industry and a business community, we can collectively share our vast experience and knowledge to help guide young people to positive outcomes beyond school, such as apprenticeships or further education in tech.”

Melinda Matthews-Clarkson, chief executive at CodeClan, said: “We have a broad tech landscape in Scotland, from agriculture to creative industries and space tech, but we don’t have enough people to meet the growing needs of our economy – it’s time to rally the younger generation to build the skills we need to make our world a better place.”

In February, CodeClan partnered with Tigers, the Glasgow-based apprenticeship education provider, to co-deliver an education and mentorship programme aimed at providing more young people in Glasgow with the skills and confidence as a step towards securing employment.

Applications close on 6 May.

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22 Feb 2022

How CGI’s Cyber Escape Experience provides a vital learning tool to boost cybersecurity

The following was written by CGI, and originally posted at futurescot.com.


In the two years since the outbreak of Covid-19, the world of work and communication for organisations, employees and stakeholders has changed beyond all recognition. The need to work from home, not to travel and to forego face-to-face meetings has seen a surge in remote working environments, and the use of digital channels, to manage and communicate with staff.

This has resulted in a growing opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit this move into the digital sphere with ever more sophisticated attacks, which in turn have brought new-found pressures to organisations, especially in the public sector, whose cybersecurity capabilities and resiliency are now being tested daily.

It’s created a ‘perfect storm’ for all of us when it comes to the range and scope of cyber threats, which have snared victims across every sector of society, some in a very public way.

With such increased problems comes increased opportunities for cybersecurity experts to find new ways of engaging with people to boost their knowledge and help them manage this rising threat.

CGI’s cybersecurity team has created a simple yet engaging way to assist in this process. It’s the Cyber Escape Experience – an escape room-style activity where people can learn about online security risks in a fun, interactive way. They team up to ‘beat the hacker’, and along the way learn about cybersecurity risks and how to avoid them.

The Experience is built within a shipping container and consists of a real-world setting of two rooms. Inside the rooms, groups of up to six work together to uncover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish cyber-related tasks to ‘escape’ in the time allowed by the ‘Gamesmasters’ – young CGI members trained to prompt and assist those taking part.

Lyndsey Teaz, business unit leader for CGI in Scotland, said: “The Cyber Escape Experience is a wonderful way of educating people to protect yourself online. It supports not only the education of children – the next generation of cybersecurity experts in Scotland – but also more ‘grown-up’ clients looking to upgrade their skills.”

The Cyber Escape Experience’s first journey to Scotland saw it visit Kemnay Academy, Aberdeenshire. There, the school’s S1 year revelled in the opportunity to learn critical skills in the simulated setting through the interactive activities, much like other escape rooms.

Through the Gamesmasters they learned about protecting their privacy and creating strong passwords, physical security, device and document handling, and navigating social media. Every pupil loved the ‘escape room’ experience, leaving with a far better knowledge of protecting themselves in the cyber world.

Now it’s back for Cyber Scotland Week, based at St Andrews RC School in Glasgow where it will put more pupils through their paces. From there, it is going on to North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and the Borders, where NHS staff and executives will follow the rules laid down by the Gamesmasters. Lyndsey Teaz added: “That is the beauty of the experience. It works for all age groups across all sectors – as everyone’s lives, both working and personal, are now touched by all things cyber.

“CGI stands ready to help all those who want to learn more about cybersecurity, which is why we are delighted to be participating in this year’s Futurescot Cyber Security Scotland conference.”

CGI senior cyber consultant John Hales will present a masterclass at the Futurescot conference, focusing on how, during Covid-19, the rush to enable a hybrid workforce may have resulted in security taking a backseat to productivity. More information is available here.

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10 Aug 2020

Fun for your Iclementalists – kids’ app builder competition

Incremental Group is involved in many initiatives aimed at encouraging young people into technology careers including proudly supporting Digital Xtra Fund as well as a number of other STEM initiatives.

As part of their commitment to getting the next generation excited by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Incremental is running an app builder competition exclusively for your little ones – your Iclementalists!

Suitable for kids of all school ages (primary and secondary), the app builder competition will put problem solving, logic and creative minds to work. For early years children, questions can be completed by an adult assistant or older sibling. There is also a printable version for those who would prefer to hand write their answers.

What is the competition?

Do you love using apps on your phone or computer? Do you like making TikTok videos or do you prefer playing Pokémon GO or talking to Alexa? Have you ever had an idea for a new app? If you could, what app would you build? Tell us all about your app idea for your chance to win a £50 Amazon voucher and a mockup of your app!

The successful app builder winner will have demonstrated that they have used their problem-solving abilities to creatively come up with their app idea.

Incremental want you to think of a problem, task or activity and how you can solve it with an app. Be creative, think differently and most of all, have fun!

For younger participants, Incremental are excited to hear your ideas and see your creative skills. You can also skip any questions you can’t answer. For older children (secondary), they will be looking for more detail but creativity and problem solving is still key!

How do I take part?

Visit Incremental’s website for more details on how to take part including tutorials and an online competition form.

The deadline for competition entries is the 30th August 2020 and the winner will be contacted after this date.

Incremental would also love to see you working on your apps on social media with the hashtags #Iclementalists and #IncrementalAppBuilder. Tweet us @inc_group_uk or tag us on Facebook or LinkedIn. Their favourite post will win a prize!

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17 Mar 2020

Scottish Financial Enterprise opens up new Unified Schools Programme nation wide

Young professionals from the Scottish financial services sector to provide insights for young people 

While the tech sector in Scotland is thriving, many of the young people who participate in initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund will find their skills in demand in other important sectors as well. Once such sector, the financial services sector, employ more than 160,000 people in Scotland and make one of the largest contributions to the economy. As new technologies transform the industry at an accelerating pace, the range of career opportunities is increasing and constantly evolving to offer an expanding and exciting range of options to young people across Scotland.

Scottish Financial Enterprise, the representative body for Scotland’s financial services industry, is offering to send young professionals from the financial services industry to schools and youth organisations to provide insights about a career in financial services and what can it offer. As part of this pioneering programme, they will also discuss the innovative Unified Schools Programme (USP) which is a new unique opportunity for young people to experience an immersive three-day visit to a financial services firm and learn first-hand about the industry. Piloted in 2019, SFE are now opening up this opportunity Scotland-wide.

If you would like an SFE Young Professional to visit your school or youth organisation or are interested in learning more about USP or the financial services industry more broadly please contact: [email protected]

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02 Sep 2019

£75K grants round announced to combat digital skills gap

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Digital Xtra Fund has launched the latest £75k funding round in support of extracurricular activities that boost interest in computing and technology among young people across Scotland.

This comes on the heels of alarming figures from SQA showing a massive drop in Computing Science Higher entries in Scotland in 2019. The Fund is urging educators and industry to come together to combat the digital skills gap which is threatening to undermine the Scottish tech sector.

Recent SQA figures showed a 21% drop in Computing Science Higher entries in Scotland as well as a 2% drop in Nat 5 entries. This alarming decline is by far the largest drop across any subject and continues a worrying trend that has been ongoing for some time.

These figures also have a direct effect on Scotland’s job market with around 12,800 digital tech job opportunities annually – a 16% increase on the previous forecasts – but only around 5,000-6,000 people entering the market each year with relevant tech skills.

Kraig Brown, Partnership and Development manager at the Digital Xtra Fund, explains: “We will be awarding £75,000 to tech-related activities for young people and it could not come at a more important time. We cannot ignore the latest figures regarding participation in Computing Science or what this means for the future of tech in Scotland.

“We are at a crossroads; we need to decide now if Scotland will be a leader or a follower in this digital world – and it all starts with young people. Scotland is prime placed to be a digital leader with an abundance of universities and colleges and a burgeoning tech scene, but inspiring young people to be the digital leaders of tomorrow is essential to maintain this momentum. Without more skilled and creative talent, Scotland will inevitably fall behind. However, a lack of understanding about what are careers in tech, coupled with negative stereotypes and strong gender imbalances, are creating serious challenges to engaging and inspiring more young people to take up computing.

“Our grants programme is a fantastic way for organisations or schools to be able to explore new ideas, build on previous successes and facilitate increased collaboration. We need to bring together educators, industry and organisations who focus on teaching young people digital skills to attract and excite more children in technology.

Brown adds: “Our goal is for all young people to have access to digital activities which teach valuable skills as well as provide ‘real-world’ context so participants understand why these skills are so important and the amazing opportunities they can provide.”

Sam Pattman, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford who support the Digital Xtra Fund grant awards, says: “Digital skills are a serious challenge across Scotland, which is illustrated by the number of tech jobs that companies struggle to fill due to the skills shortage. The solution lies in educating our young people and collectively we need to work together to inspire more children to become interested in computing science and technology. This is why initiatives like the Digital Xtra Fund are so important – it’s about working together and supporting exciting digital initiatives to give more children the opportunity to understand what a future in tech may be. We are delighted to be increasing our support for the Fund.”

Digital Xtra Fund has today opened applications (02 September 2019) for initiatives supported in 2020. A total of £75,000 will be awarded to digital skills initiatives across Scotland with grants available up to £5,000. Grant applications can be downloaded on the Fund’s website and applications will close 31st October 2019. To date, the Fund has helped engage nearly 30,000 young people across Scotland by awarding a total of £550,000. Last year’s funding supported 22 initiatives, covering topics from robotics and coding, to app development and the Internet of Things (IoT). To access further information please visit https://www.digitalxtrafund.scot/apply.

Digital Xtra Fund brings together businesses, organisations, and individuals with a common goal to help young people succeed in a digital world through an annual grant awards programme. Key Partners for 2019/20 include Baillie Gifford, Skills Development Scotland and Skyscanner as well as Accenture, BT Scotland, Cirrus Logic, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, ScotlandIS, Sky UK and The Scottish Government.

Created in 2016, Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish charity which supports high-quality, extracurricular computing initiatives across Scotland that inspire young people to understand and create with technology, not simply use it. The aim is to encourage young people to consider careers in computing to fill Scotland’s digital skills gap. To date, the fund has distributed £550,000 in support of 55 projects, achieving an active engagement of nearly 30,000 young people across all local authorities in Scotland.

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04 Jul 2018

Inverness Science Festival: Community Coding

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This year Digital Xtra Fund has introduced over 3,200 young people to digital technologies through supporting 11 high-quality initiatives across Scotland. Since January, we’ve highlighted each of these initiatives, taking a closer look at how they inspire, enable, and engage young people to be digitally innovative and creative, and give them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide.

 

Community Coding in the Highlands

Our final blog looks at the Inverness Science Festival, delivered by the University of the Highlands and Islands. Through a broad programme of community and schools’ events, this project introduces young people to inspirational events and stimulating digital technology, giving them the chance to get hands on and excited about coding, no matter their location or economic background.

With a focus on remote and rural schools, this multi-faceted project trains teachers and volunteers to support science, technology, engineering, maths and digital extracurricular clubs (STEMD), provides equipment, administration and resources to coding clubs, creates a pool of trained mentors, and inspires people through lectures, workshops, and hands on events at their exciting annual Science Festival.

Inverness Science Festival 2Over 1,500 students from the Highlands took part in this year. Primary school pupils have had the opportunity to participate in digital-based workshops and presentations, learning about coding, computer game creation, and hardware and programming, giving them experience of digital signals, binary code, Light Bot, Scratch, Code Bugs, Spheros, and Ardunios. School teachers and S6 pupils have been given support and training to boost their knowledge and confidence, and will now host STEMD clubs for S1-S4 pupils. In addition, the Inverness Science Festival took place in May, offering digital-based interactive pop-up activities at their popular Family Events, alongside structured workshop sessions.

Giving young people access to and opportunity to get hands on with digital equipment and technology has been key across this project. Support from Digital Xtra Fund has allowed Inverness Science Festival to invest in digital equipment, including code-a-pillar, Spheros, micro:bits and Bit:bot robots, Raspberry Pi, Arduino rocket kits, and snap circuits. By offering this equipment and their expertise to schools, clubs and community groups, the Inverness Science Festival breaks down barriers caused by a lack of local equipment, knowledge, or funding. Support from Digital Xtra Fund will also help create a lasting legacy as the equipment will remain available long-term for local groups to borrow free of charge from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Boy Assembling Robotic Kit In Bedroom

Evelyn Gray, STEM Administrator at the University of the Highlands and Islands said, “The team at Inverness Science Festival have loved being part of this year’s Digital Xtra Fund initiatives. The support has enabled us to successfully expand our current digital offering. Our regular workshops stimulate students’ interest in digital technologies while the availability of equipment that we can ‘loan out’ enables us to build upon this enthusiasm, allowing students to continue the learning journey at their own pace back at school.”

Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant rounds, which support the Inverness Science Festival and many other inspirational projects, are made possible by the valued support of Scotland’s tech industry, supplying sponsorship, insight, and in-kind support that all go towards our goal of giving every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. Find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future.

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