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More than a million students start programming as part of Hour of Code

A campaign featuring tutorials from the likes of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates has encouraged more than a million students in the UK to take up coding so far.

The scheme, called the Hour of Code, was launched less than two weeks ago, but has already seen over a million students undertake 60 minutes of computer programming.

It was introduced in the UK off the back of a highly-successful campaign in the US, which saw nearly 20 million students give coding a try in just a single week, and garnered support from celebrities, sports stars and even the US president Barack Obama.

The UK’s version comes as part of a wider initiative to get young people interested in coding ahead of the introduction of the new computing curriculum this September.

This change will mean that every student in England’s schools will learn the subject of computing, including the discipline of coding, from the age of 5 until at least the age of 14.

Codecademy, a New York-based education start-up, which backed the US Hour of Code and is currently advising the Department for Education (DfE) on how to train the teaching workforce to deliver the new curriculum, said that coding was an essential skill to learn.

Speaking to TES back in December, Zach Sims, co-founder of Codecademy, said that leaving coding to a small number of experts was the wrong approach, because it would be the “fundamental literacy” of tomorrow.

“It is not just for computer programmers to learn,” Mr Sims told TES. “Coding affects and can improve pretty much everything.

“Whether you are a doctor or a journalist, they are all using coding more and more – the whole financial system is based on algorithmic programs. It’s the basic literacy of the future.”

The Hour of Code will culminate in a week-long focus on coding between 3 and 9 of March, marking the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the World Wide Web.

Computing At School (CAS), which is working with the DfE to implement the new computing curriculum, said that the campaign was well-timed.

Simon Peyton-Jones, principal researcher at Microsoft’s research lab and CAS lead member, said: “With the advent in September of the new computing curriculum, which includes computational thinking and computer science for the first time, the UK Hour of Code is perfectly timed as a springboard for children and their parents, by helping them to dip their toe in the water of this rich, fascinating new subject.”

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