Ocado Technology launches coding resources for teachers

Ocado Technology is the latest business to get involved with preparing teachers for the new computing curriculum that comes into effect in September.


Ocado Technology is the latest business to get involved with preparing teachers for the new computing curriculum that comes into effect in September.

Equipping teachers with the skills to teach the more ‘rigorous’ computing course has been a concern for schools. It has also been posed as an opportunity for businesses to get involved to ensure that children are being taught the skills relevant to the industry.

In response, the online retailer’s technology division has launched ‘Code for Life’, a nationwide initiative that includes a free coding teaching resource called Rapid Router. It has been developed and tested with primary computing teachers and over 150 pupils.

“[This resource] clearly introduces the language of coding to children in a fun and engaging way,” said Fran Worby, Year 4 teacher at Tudor Primary School, in Barnet.

“It also allows children to develop their understanding in this area of the curriculum by introducing coding language in small, manageable chunks - offering excellent progression.”

She added: “Coding was a whole new area for me, let alone the children, and this teaching pack has made it easy to get started with the requirements of the new curriculum.”

The application

Aimed initially at Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2 teachers, Rapid Router features a “fun and engaging” educational web application, a series of lesson plans, activity guides and coding careers videos.

The app, built on easy-to-use visual programming language Blockly, features more than 25 levels that get more challenging as pupils master new functions, as well as a “create” function where children can build their own challenges. An extension built on the more complex Python programming language will be available later in the academic year.

“Teaching children to program is not just about nurturing the next generation of software engineers; being able to write code is a transformative and disruptive meta-skill that needs to be seen as being of huge potential value whatever your future holds,” said Paul Clarke, director of technology at Ocado.

“I would go so far as to say that it is a survival skill that our children need to acquire to flourish in the increasingly digital and online future that awaits them.”

Employees at Ocado Technology volunteered more than 400 hours to create the Rapid Router web app. The company said it is the first in a series of educational resources that it is creating, based on real life challenges within its business, to inspire young people to take up a career in computer science.

The resource is available from 1 September 2014, and primary school teachers can pre-register for more information and access the resource at www.codeforlife.education.

Ocado has been on a drive to recruit 100 software engineers and other technology specialists in the UK and a further 50 tech positions to be based in Krakow, Poland.

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