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New computer coding scheme launched to help disadvantaged kids

By Megan Rose

Over 200 children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds will participate in a new computer coding scheme. The programme, conducted by the Imperial Sutton Scholars project, will be made available to 11-14-year-old state-educated pupils who live in areas of Greater London.

The scheme will teach programming, coding and how to apply these skills to other areas of study, such as science. The sessions will be run by Sutton Trust mobility charity and will take place at University College London.

A similar scheme for pupils aged between 16-18 will also be launched. Here, they will also learn coding and programming skills, as well as receiving support and advice on how to pursue a career in the technology sector.

The two pilot schemes have been designed in response to recent research by the Sutton Trust, which found there are a number of obstacles hindering those from disadvantaged backgrounds to secure jobs in the technology sector. Exposing pupils to the world of coding and programming at an early age is hoped to help tackle this issue.

Currently, there are around 1.5 million jobs in the UK digital sector, 400,000 of which are based on coding. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 100,000 new coding jobs. In May, Lord Baker, the former education secretary, argued that gaining a GCSE in a computing-based subject is now more valuable than a language-based GCSE.

The chairman of The Sutton Trust, Sir Peter Lampi, echoed this, saying it was likely that the digital sector would offer financially rewarding careers to many young people, 'but we need to make sure that these opportunities are available to all...not just those from better-off backgrounds.’

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