A few words from Freddie Norton, Acting CEO, Apps for Good
It has been widely reported that the education system and secondary schools in particular have faced an incredibly challenging period. The lasting effects of COVID 19, including the huge impact on children’s learning through school closures, particularly impacted young people in challenging circumstances. Organisations including the Fair Education Alliance have reported, the attainment gap has actually widened and inequality is getting worse for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the technology sector continues to grow and young people face bigger and more daunting challenges around the economy, climate change and the future of work, it can often feel that students are increasingly faced with many insurmountable challenges.
There are, however, as this Impact Report proves, reasons to be optimistic and I am continuously privileged to see the passion of teachers and the resilience of young people when given the skills, knowledge and opportunity to succeed. I am incredibly proud of this year's Impact Report and what Apps for Good has been able to achieve over the past year.
In response to a changing education landscape, we have taken time to review and refresh our strategy and course content to meet the needs of our users, including updating our Theory of Change and the creation and pilot of a new solutions focussed technology course, Innovate for Climate Change. We have retired our Apps for Good Awards competition, to create a new annual Showcase, which through virtual delivery allows us to celebrate more students than ever before from all corners of the UK, as well as giving them the opportunity to interact with industry professionals through pitching their product ideas. We have also made sure that Expert sessions, where industry volunteer Experts can dial into the classroom and provide advice to students on how to improve their project, are now fully embedded into our courses, enabling our incredible Experts to benefit even more young people.
We have also used this year to explore and learn how to better improve our content and resources. Our successful SEND pilot, conducted with brand new course materials, taught us a huge amount about how to make future courses and resources inclusive and accessible for all learners.
The pilot of our first thematic course, Innovate for Climate Change enabled us to extend our mission of providing computing within a context, by empowering young people to take climate action. For the first time ever, through this course, we created online teacher training to support their delivery and introduced a new essential skills framework through our partnership with Skills Builder. This means teachers can easily assess the essential skills the students are learning such as teamwork, problem solving, leadership and communication. As computing is at the heart of what we do, we also used this course to embed computational thinking throughout the course materials, meaning students gain more computing and prototyping skills than ever before. The new Innovate for Climate Change course has now been launched UK wide and is mapped to all four nations’ curriculums.
We’re also building on what we’ve learnt in the past year to create and launch a new refreshed and updated app development course, called App for Social Action, which will be piloted in early 2023 and available more widely in September 2023. This course will also utilise the Skills Builder framework and will include a new Ideation Toolkit that will keep social action at its heart.
Over the past 12 years, we’ve been privileged to work with 240,000 young people with more than half experiencing challenging circumstances. During 2021/22, we continued to build on this incredible achievement, enhancing the education of more young people, and supporting the many teachers and senior leaders who choose to embed our courses within their schools. This year we have significantly improved the Apps for Good teaching experience and are proud that in just one school term, teachers can empower their students with the skills and motivation to take action on the things they care about most , provide industry interactions with real-world professionals and teach computing and essential skills with a brand new comprehensive skills framework.
As this report demonstrates, in 2021/22 we responded to the challenges facing education and our young people to ensure Apps for Good continues to provide students with the skills and motivation to shape their future through technology, whilst also giving teachers the support and confidence to deliver creative and engaging lessons.