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Why I'm for #codingforkids

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This is a guest post by Emma Mulqueeny (@hubmum), Director of Rewired State and one of the founders of the new Coding for Kids movement.

Every year, we run Young Rewired State, a network of developers aged 18 and under making digital things based on government data. And every year, the female:male ratio is about 5% or lower. In August, I blogged that a major part of this seems to be that kids get introduced to programming far too late, if at all. The bits of "computer thinking" kids get taught at Year 8 are already far too late to capture girls into something that is still a niche for self-taught "geeky" people.

This blog post got a strong reaction from my community through comments, tweets and blog posts, and it coalesced into the thought that what we really want are two things - to get coding into schools as part of a normal STEM focus, but even before that, to involve the community in helping kids learn to coding right now.

On Monday, there was a Guardian Tech Weekly live podcast on tech skills and education, the panel included David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, and me. We discussed the importance for the next generation to have the opportunity to learn coding, one of the most valuable skills both financially and also in understanding the technological world around us.

On Wednesday, a group of us - parents, activists, teachers and kids - got together in London for an evening barcamp to talk about how we could make it happen. It was hugely exciting and there were lots of thoughts about what we could do and where we would need to focus to make a real difference for children. One of the things I asked everyone who attended was to make a pledge to achieve one thing to make this a reality - be it starting a local after-school, writing to the head teacher of your child's school, or just talking about this with colleagues and friends who code. Whether or not you came to the event, I'd like to ask the same of you.

I am far from the only one looking to encourage more kids to have the opportunity to find out what coding is like and whether it's for them. There's Katy Beale from Caper who helped me organise Wednesday's barcamp. There is the fantastic Computing At School group of teachers working to promote the teaching of Computing in schools. And now there's an excellent community of folks from Wednesday night and beyond who are looking to make coding something everyone can try.

If you think coding is an important skill, please join us and made a difference — on Twitter, the wiki, or the mailing list!

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  1. Comment by Learn Coding Like Learning New Languages | Classroom Aid posted on

    [...] – ‘BBC Micro Project‘ Emma Mulqueeny guest post on Cabinet Office blog [1] Don Box on Teaching my kids to program John Graham-Cumming on Teach our kids to [...]

  2. Comment by Introducing Jordan Hatch | Government Digital Service posted on

    [...] developers on such an innovative project. Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion around teaching kids to code from an early age. At secondary school, I was first inspired to start coding from the small programming club there, [...]

  3. Comment by Parliament Week hack day | Government Digital Service posted on

    [...] teams featured “Young Rewired Staters“. Emma Mulqueeny, who runs Rewired State, wrote a guest blog post here last month about encouraging young people to get into coding, and this event demonstrated [...]

  4. Comment by Rosie Sherry (@rosiesherry) posted on

    As a parent, girl geek and person involved in technology projects from a 'software testing' angle, I think this is a great idea.

    Here is my view and encouragement more from a 'software testing' angle -