A FREE after-school coding club has really taken off at Our Lady of Mercy National School in Bantry.
The club, in the school’s computer room, is part of the Digital Schools Initiative.
It’s predicted that 90% of all jobs – in careers such as engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, art, architecture and more – will soon require some level of digital skills.
As a result, there could be up to 825,000 unfilled vacancies for ICT (Information and Communications Technology) professionals in Europe by 2020.
In response, the Department of Education is piloting a new Junior Cycle short course in coding to be rolled out in September.
Some of those who will be teaching the new course recently took part in a training programme at the Intel Ireland Campus in Leixlip, Co Kildare.
The course was a collaboration between Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) professional development service, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre and technology giant Intel, which donated equipment to the schools involved.
At primary level, schools are also doing their part to encourage pupils’ interest and offer them opportunities to get involved.
In December pupils from Our Lady of Mercy National School joined millions across the world by participating in the Hour of Code.
Now pupils, from 2nd to 6th class, have a dedicated after-school Coding Club where they can participate in computer programming, problem solving and collaborative working. While the club often uses the 30-seater computer room, the tasks also involve paper exercises and everyday objects such as art materials and playing cards, explained principal Dympna Daly.
‘All members can work at their own pace and learn the fundamentals of programming including loops, conditionals and functions,’ Mrs Daly explained. ‘Teachers can follow an individual’s progress online, allowing pupils to continue working from home if they wish,’ she added.
Some of the positive comments received from the pupils about coding, included: ‘It taught you so much but it was good fun.’ ‘Coding Club is awesome because I love computers and would like to be an illustrator or graphic designer when I’m older’ and ‘It’s really fun to know how the things we play with work.’