Inspiring young people to become the next generation of coders and technologists, West College Scotland’s Renfrewshire Coding Clubs are uniquely placed to inspire pupils, college students, and teachers through a programme of extracurricular activities, a network of college STEM Ambassadors, and a CPD programme to engage teachers in the local community.
Originally launched in 2016 with support from Digital Xtra Fund, this year sees West College Scotland expand their Coding Clubs to another 3 Renfrewshire secondary schools in partnership with Renfrewshire Council’s Digital Participation team and the Education Department. Support for the expansion has been generously provided by BT Scotland. BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries and recently confirmed their continued support of Digital Xtra Fund into 2019.
Renfrewshire Coding Clubs
The Renfrewshire Coding Clubs are aimed at S1 and S2 pupils who will soon be thinking about their elective subject choices. The afterschool Coding Clubs deliver activities in a fun and informal way that engages young people, builds their skills, and stimulates their interest in computing science and digital technologies. Senior staff from the College’s computing faculty work with a team of West College Scotland STEM Ambassadors to run the weekly clubs, recruited from the College’s HNC and HND students. This provides the students with a unique opportunity to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for computing science with school pupils, while giving the college students valuable work experience that supports their current studies and their future careers in STEM.
The Coding Clubs are fun and exciting, engaging young people with hands-on computing experiences such as the micro:bit, which allows them to learn to code using a block programming-type language and create games, graphics, and sounds. Pupils get a glimpse of emerging and new technologies too, with sessions on virtual reality tools, held at West College Scotland’s Virtual Reality Lab on their Paisley Campus.
Alongside the Coding Clubs, West College Scotland has also delivered CPD sessions in association with Microsoft Education, Renfrewshire Council, and Paisley YMCA to Renfrewshire primary and secondary school teachers. Focused on increasing the teachers’ confidence and encouraging the use of coding in the classroom, these sessions are vital for the legacy of this project as these teachers will take over managing the current Coding Clubs, as well as initiating new ones, with the assistance of the STEM Ambassadors and senior school pupils. Additional support for the CPD sessions and Coding Clubs comes from The Micro:bit Foundation, who donated 500 micro:bits to this project, giving each teacher their own classroom set to help make coding in the classroom fun and easy.
West College Scotland principal and chief executive Audrey Cumberford said: “New and emerging technologies are transforming the workplace and the skills people will need for the jobs of tomorrow. At West College Scotland our ambition is to be a high performing digital college. We recognise the vital role we play in supporting and developing the digital skills of the young people in our region. We are proud of the partnership with our local schools, Renfrewshire Council, BT Scotland and Digital Xtra Fund.”
BT Scotland has supported Digital Xtra Fund since its launch, and its valuable support has allowed the Fund to inspire young people across Scotland with digital technologies. Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “BT is right behind Digital Xtra Fund because we believe every young Scot needs to learn digital skills as a basic along with reading and writing. West College Scotland coding clubs engage young people in a fun and informal way and it’s great that more S1 and 2 pupils are getting the chance to learn skills which could potentially lead to a career in digital technology. It’s vital that industry works with educators and the wider public sector to tackle the digital skills shortage and prepare young people for the future world of work.”
West College Scotland’s Coding Clubs is one of 11 initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant awards, contributing to our goal to give every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. These awards are made possible by the valued support of BT Scotland, a Digital Xtra Partner, and many others in Scotland’s tech industry, through sponsorship, donations and in-kind support. To help us continue this work, find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future here.