There is a lack of diversity in the computer science and information technology sectors of the economy, especially among women and underrepresented minorities.
Lack of exposure and access to resources are believed to be the main reasons for this disparity, as well as a lack of qualified teaching computer science staff in schools. It is particularly difficult to recruit qualified teachers as many opt for entering industry instead of teaching. A common knock on effect is that computer science falls off the curriculum altogether.
The coding enrichment programme initiated by the Lars Windhorst Foundation seeks to address this imbalance by introducing students to computers and coding in a fun and interactive way.
The Coding Sphere was launched in September 2019 at King Solomon Academy, in London, with plans to expand the programme to more schools. The weekly classes are run by qualified teachers supplied to the school by the Foundation. The Foundation has also donated laptop computers for King Solomon Academy to address a shortage.
The sessions teach programming through the Python language. Each session is centred around a small coding project that the students can complete in class, and students are encouraged to work together to solve problems. These small and independent coding projects are designed to highlight particular coding concepts.
The aim of the coding enrichment programme is to:
- Expose less advantaged students to computer programming
- Expose students to university degrees and career paths linked to technology
- Raise awareness and the aspirations of young people.
- Support schools to find highly qualified teachers in computer science, an area that is typically difficult for schools to staff
- Support the school’s computer science curriculum