Camden students rise to Coding Challenge

IBM’s Chief Executive (UK and Ireland), David Stokes, joined students from eight Camden secondary schools at the borough’s first-ever Coding Challenge event.

Mr Stokes presented medals for achievement to Year 8 students who completed a series of tasks, including programming Lego robots and Engduino devices, as well as talking to them about opportunities in the tech industry.

The event on Friday 10 July at the Camden Centre, King’s Cross, was a celebration of the innovative work to promote coding and computing – called ‘Get Camden Coding’ - in Camden schools, as well as the strong partnerships between schools, tech companies and universities in the borough.

Mr Stokes told students: "Technology is profoundly changing the way we work and live our lives. It presents a tremendous opportunity for those who develop the right digital skills, to drive world-leading innovation in the UK."

Colin Hamilton, head of computing at William Ellis School, said the Coding Challenge event was a “fun and exciting” way for students to participate in programming challenges.

Ros Fryer, head of computing at Acland Burghley School, said: “The students loved it. They have had a great day.”

Regent High School was the overall winner of the Coding Challenge, with Acland Burghley School finishing second. Hampstead School and Maria Fidelis School shared third place.

The other four schools taking part on the day were William Ellis, Camden School for Girls, Parliament Hill and La Sainte Union.

As part of Get Camden Coding, the Council has invested £250,000 over three years in programmable robots and creative computing in secondary schools, which has helped to double students’ participation in computing related A-levels across our local secondary school sixth forms

All state secondary schools in the borough have been participating in a series of innovative lessons provided by specialist trainer, the Film and Video Workshop. The lessons, complemented by training for teachers, are part of a partnership with University College London’s Department of Computer Science.

The Council also runs a City Learning Centre for children and teachers to learn how to program and use the latest digital learning technologies.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet member for Finance and Technology Policy
“We need to start children early to get them excited by the new computing curriculum. We are doing that here in Camden by enabling children in primary and secondary schools to experiment with coding, manipulating robots and mini-computers, as well as multi-media applications, so they can see the practical uses of computer programming in daily life.

“Camden is home to very many creative industries at the cutting-edge of technology, from games to video special effects and the world’s leading hi-tech firms. We want children here to be able to work in those industries, not just be passive consumers of technology. We could be helping the future engineers of the driverless car!”

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet member for Finance and Technology Policy

Simon Oatley, Director of the Film and Video Workshop, said: “No other local authority has invested in this way to inspire children to take up these aspects of the new computing curriculum, which involves using computer coding to manipulate objects.”

Halima Bhayat, head of ICT and computer science at Maria Fidelis School, said: “The students are learning how technology applies to the real world and how to problem-solve, which are valuable skills for university and the kinds of jobs they are likely to be applying for in the future.”

Camden Council has also established a network of lunch-time or after-school coding clubs in primary schools, in partnership with Code Club UK, UCL Engineering and Google. Seventy-five per cent of our primary schools are now either running or in the process of setting up a Code Club.

Camden Council was recently hailed ‘UK Digital City’ in the Municipal Journal (MJ) local government awards in recognition of our innovative use of new technology to improve the lives of residents and access to services.