IT experts from national bank to volunteer at Hackney schools

IT experts are being invited to Hackney schools in a unique volunteering initiative to support the new computer curriculum, thanks to a partnership between Hackney Council, Hackney Learning Trust and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

A team of RBS IT experts will be working with three Hackney schools, free of charge, in the classroom during timetabled lessons to supporting teachers and students learn new digital skills, such as coding.

Alongside the teacher, volunteers will help to boost students' computing knowledge and confidence while also working with teachers to support lessons that will cover all areas of the new computing curriculum.

Working with a range of year groups, including GCSE students beginning their two year courses, the RBS volunteers will help to share their experience of what skills are needed for a career in technology.

They will also act as mentors for A-level students undertaking a computing practical project. Students must work with a real ‘customer’, and develop a solution that demonstrates their computational thinking, problem solving and programming skills.

The RBS volunteers have already visited their host schools to discuss how their involvement can support the study of computing for students, and supported an A-level ‘taster’ session this month.

The initiative will start in September with each of the three school’s being given a volunteer for up to 24 hours across the academic year to support the curriculum.

It complements other support given in Hackney schools to teach computing, such as after-school Code Clubs, and the Get Hackney Coding campaign in February that helped to spread the word about coding which is now part of the curriculum.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “Following Get Hackney Coding, a month-long campaign about teaching coding in the new school curriculum, Hackney Council and Hackney Learning Trust are collaborating with RBS to help Hackney's young people prepare for a future in the digital workplace.

“It is a big challenge for schools to adapt to the new computing curriculum so this collaboration, one of the first in the borough, is designed to help support our teachers in the classroom. With the rapid change in the jobs market, this new initiative is an opportunity for teachers and students to meet with creative tech professionals and gain a greater understanding of career options and routes to employment in the growing digital economy.

"This initiative with RBS marks just the beginning for Hackney, our ambition is to involve more Hackney schools working in collaboration with Hackney’s business community providing young people with the skills for a career in Hackney’s fast growing creative tech sector.”

Martin Buck, from the Hackney Learning Trust said: “We are delighted to be part of this collaboration with RBS, and the enthusiasm from all involved has been great to see.

“The new computing qualifications demand a lot from teachers and learners, and we see the involvement of IT professionals from RBS as a real bonus for all involved. Teachers will have a new point of reference for how programmers use their skills in the workplace, and apply computational thinking to real-life situations. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with experienced programmers, developers and system analysts during lessons.

“We are really grateful to the RBS team of volunteers, who are all excited about the scheme and have been full of ideas about how can best support the schools’ needs.”

Zak Martin, Head of Risk Technology and Change, Global Markets at RBS said: “Our employees volunteer over 250,000 hours every year to help others access the opportunities they need to get on in life. Our support for Hackney schools is a chance for RBS IT experts to share their coding expertise and help build the next generation of UK developers. We have 20 volunteers ready to start working in Hackney schools and are looking at how we can get even more of our volunteers involved across the country. We have been running coding clubs in London schools for the last three years and see this as the next step in helping build a sustainable technology skill base across the country. Strong IT skills will be essential for the UK to continue its long history of technical innovation and help us compete in the global economy."