“You do what?”, is a fairly standard response when I explain my job to people – they think I’m making it up. Especially when I tell them that I do it for one of the biggest banks in the UK.
So, what is this not-made-up, incredibly cool job I get to do? I’m Kev Garner and I’m the National Lead for Code Playground, in the Barclays Digital Eagle team. It’s my job to inspire our colleagues to get involved with Code Playground and train them to help children across the UK (and the world) start their journey to learning to code. I run regular training sessions to support colleagues and, as a collective, we host coding sessions up and down the country; in schools, in our branches and out in local communities.
Code Playground was launched in 2015 (check out this video from our original launch), and has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. The programme was introduced to help to address a digital skills gap. It was predicted in 2015 that in the not too distant future there would be 1 million more programming jobs than there would be people to fill them – that’s a pretty large gap that would have a major impact on the UK economy should it come to pass, and so Code Playground was born to help society bridge that gap.
At Code Playground’s inception, I was responsible for the set up and running of monthly Code Playground sessions across Liverpool – all of which are still running today. Now, in my role as National Lead, I also get to support, inspire and motivate our colleagues to support their local communities by setting up and running their own sessions as well as researching and developing new content to keep our Code Playground sessions up to date a relevant.
I first found out about National Coding Week in 2016 when a colleague asked me to organise Code Playground session during that week. After a bit of research, it was really clear to see that this was a really important initiative and the relationship between Code Playground and National Coding Week began.
My session formed part of a series of events, held in Barclays branches and head office locations across the country, where hundreds of children were in attendance. We had loads of activities for the children to get involved in, from Scratch games and BBC Micro:bits, to Raspberry Pis and VR headsets galore. We continued to support National Coding Week in 2017 with another series of events and we’re really proud to be able build on that tradition again this year.
Whilst there have been giant steps over the past few years – and most children now understand what coding is – there is still a long way to go. In a BBC article published June 2017, The British Computer Society warned that by 2020 (scarily, less than 18 months away) there will be half as many computer science students in the UK as there are today. Which means there is a huge opportunity for us to support even more children in building a future in technology.
Barclays Digital Eagles want to support children to future proof their skills ready for a career in the rapidly changing digital world. Code Playground is key to the way we do that and we are keen to encourage as many people as possible to take part. This year, National Coding Week starts on 17 September. It’s a great way to introduce children (young and old) to this new and exciting subject.
To celebrate this year’s National Coding Week, on Wednesday, 19 September we’ll be hosting a live coding session in partnership with National Coding Week. It’ll be broadcast through our Barclays UK YouTube channel. It’s free for schools – and anyone else who’s keen to learn about coding – to take part in. The session will be lots of fun – we find having fun is the best way to learn.
To continue the work started with the live session, local Digital Eagles will offer further support to the schools* in their communities.You too can get involved in National Coding Week through our live coding session by either watching live on YouTube or sharing the details of the session with your local schools.
You can also have a play around with code on our Code Playground website or book onto, or request, local sessions through our online booking site.
There’s a whole host of resources available, for all members of the community, including the great new toolkits – available here. Whether you’re teaching code or learning code, there’s a toolkit to help you every step of the way.
Coding is fast becoming one of the languages of the future, and with our schools increasingly focusing on computer science education, the opportunities available for our children are growing too. Barclays Digital Eagles are committed to helping them move forward.
All opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Barclays UK
*Follow up sessions are subject to availability