Nationwide initiative to ready primary kids for the digital world

14th September 2023
Sheryl Miles

Primary school children will start the new school year with enriched support to learn vital computing and digital creativity skills as the BBC micro:bit – the next gen campaign rolls out to schools across the UK.

Tens of thousands of micro:bit classroom sets will be distributed for free, as well as brand-new teaching resources to accelerate computational thinking, programming, digital creativity, and machine learning knowledge among primary school pupils.   

This ambitious UK-wide project, which aims to inspire all youngsters to be excited by technology, is led by BBC Education, Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet but has only been made possible by the contribution of partners across the technology and education industries. Committed to helping address the digital skills and digital diversity gap, numerous partners from Britain and further afield have contributed their skills, resources, and time to ensure the successful delivery of this initiative.  

Britain’s brightest tech companies and leading global suppliers

Nominet, who runs the .UK internet infrastructure, is a lead partner in this project. Having funded 700,000 devices to be distributed to primary schools across the UK – delivering 30 free devices per school – alongside free educational resources and teacher training provided by the BBC and Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

Last year, it co-funded research with the Foundation among UK primary school teachers, which was fundamental in shaping this campaign, as it identified the unique challenges facing primary school teachers in bringing digital skills and computing concepts into the classroom. Teachers want to bring digital into the classroom more, and by providing free training and classroom resources this project will give teachers the necessary boost of confidence to do so.   

Leading semiconductor designer ARM has also been a long-time partner to the Foundation, providing technical expertise to help craft the original micro:bit. As part of this project, it is also providing a bursary to underserved schools who need additional support to participate.   

To meet the scale of this project, offering just under 700,000 devices, the biggest project the Foundation has ever committed to, it is working with its two trusted manufacturers and global distributors, OKdo and Farnell.  OKdo and Farnell will manufacture the micro:bits and OKdo will distribute all micro:bit devices for this campaign, while STMicroelectronics has supplied the accelerometer and magnetometer (a key component for bringing the micro:bit to life in the classroom)  at a reduced cost.  

World-class education partners

The micro:bit and its accompanying resources are purpose-designed for use in a classroom setting, informed by education experts and with teachers in mind. As such, equally important to this project is the provision of education tools and services, and support for practitioners on the ground.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) has provided teacher training and campaign support to schools in Northern Ireland, with Education Scotland providing the respective role in Scotland, the National Centre for Computing Education doing so for England and the Regional Education Consortia and Technocamps doing so throughout Wales.  

BBC Education is a lead delivery partner in the project and is respected worldwide for its educational content. It is amplifying this project across its channels and has helped develop resources that bring computing concepts into partnership with much-loved CBBC brands and stars.

Both Lancaster University and Microsoft are founding partners of the Foundation. They continue to support as Microsoft provide the Microsoft MakeCode editor and Lancaster University support the underlying firmware for the micro:bit. Both organisations are working to deliver further aspects of the project such as the playground survey in 2024.  

Gareth Stockdale, CEO, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said: “Our experience and research show how pivotal early learning confidence and interest is to encourage longer-term engagement of technology-related studies. Capturing children’s attention in these formative primary school years is critical which is why this project is so important.   

But a project this ambitious simply couldn’t happen without the support of a wide range of industry and education partners dedicating funds, expertise, and resources to it. With their generosity and support, we are preparing to welcome the next generation of teachers and pupils to the power of the micro:bit and introduce them to a world of digital creativity, fun, and opportunities.”

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