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Written Statement - Cracking the code – a plan to expand code clubs in every part of Wales

Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education

In my oral statement on 13 June I provided an update on the significant progress made to support the teaching of digital skills as part of our curriculum reform.  In my statement I also indicated that I would make a further announcement on how we will support the development of coding skills for young people in Wales.

Today I am pleased to launch ‘Cracking the Code – a plan to expand code clubs in every part of Wales.’  The plan sets out how Welsh Government will work in partnership with schools, colleges, consortia, universities, businesses, industry and the third sector to support the teaching of coding skills both in and outside of the classroom in local areas across Wales.

As part of our national mission to improve education standards, we are making great strides to ensure that our learners are digitally competent and capable of thriving in the modern, digital world.  To succeed as a nation and as individuals we need to enable all our learners to become creative authors of technology as well as competent users.  To achieve this, our learners need to be able to code, which is an essential building block of our modern world.

Coding skills can be developed across a broad range of subjects within the curriculum and through code clubs.  The new Curriculum for Wales currently under development by Pioneer schools will include computing within the Science and Technology Area of Learning and Experience.  But we need not wait until all schools are teaching to the new curriculum.  I want to encourage more schools now to develop fun and engaging approaches which help build learners’ understanding of code.  Code clubs are a proven means to support the introduction and development of coding skills, and provide enriching learning experiences for teachers and learners within which they can try something new.

To support the delivery of Cracking the Code we will work collectively with our partners to achieve improved learning on code under three strategic actions:

  1. Raise awareness and highlight the benefits of code clubs to headteachers, teachers, learners and parents.
  2. Break down the barriers to participation in code clubs.
  3. Broker and facilitate coding experiences.
The plan will be supported by £1.3m over this Assembly term which has been directed through the regional education consortia.  The funding will allow schools and regional consortia to provide teachers the space and capacity to work with partners at local, national and international levels.

Many schools are already working with other schools and partners to deliver coding skills.  As I launch Cracking the code I am pleased to announce that the following partners have demonstrated their support to work in partnership with us in taking forward the plan:
  • Bafta
  • Big Learning Company - Official Lego®  Education partner
  • British Council
  • BT Barefoot Computing
  • Colleges in Wales
  • Computing at School (CAS)
  • Microsoft Education
  • Raspberry Pi Foundation and Code Club
  • Royal Air Force
  • Sony UK Technology Centre
  • Technocamps
  • Universities in Wales
This list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive.  This is the start of our journey together as we work towards bringing coding skills to the forefront of our curriculum reforms.

As part of this initiative we will be launching an innovative Minecraft Education pilot Programme with Microsoft UK.  The pilot will bring together schools and educators from across the country to support the development of young people’s digital skills through use of the Minecraft: Education Edition Code Builder, and share best practice in this dynamic environment.