Why skills matter to your students' future

Jan 09, 2023
Our Work

A 2022 Impact Journey Case Study

The technology sector is growing in the UK, and although data suggests 57% of young people want a job that uses advanced digital skills, one fifth don’t feel they’re getting good foundational training from school.

That’s why we’re designing our courses to equip young people with both the digital and essential skills for their future. Our teachers tell us that they want to thread digital skills through everything they do because when young people go out into the world of work, the reality is - they need them.

Our free computing courses are designed to inspire young people to use technology to address real-world issues important to them. Through this they develop their computing knowledge as well as learning programming and coding skills.

In addition to digital skills, essential skills, such as teamwork, communication and problem solving are critical in the workplace. That’s why we’ve been accredited by Skills Builder to use their Universal Framework. We are integrating the framework across all of our courses, so that it’s clear what skills are being taught and when. We’ve also integrated questions around these skills in our end of course survey, so we can capture progress. We already know that around 4 out of 5 of the young people who take our courses improve their teamwork skills.

Spotlight: Developing skills for life at Denbigh High School, Luton

Meet Hafsa, Mariam, and Ruqayyah - all aged 12 when they studied Innovate for Climate Change during Year 7 at Denbigh High School in Luton. Describing themselves as ‘sporty and creative’, they worked collaboratively as a team to come up with their climate action app idea, ‘Electro Saver’ - an app designed for children to help them remember to complete simple home-based tasks which help decrease electricity usage and reduce household bills.

Recognising that there should be more women in tech, the girls were motivated to succeed and happy to agree on one idea, sharing honest opinions to iterate and improve on each other’s suggestions. They enjoyed working as a team and expressed a desire for a future job that involves collaboration.

image1.png Hafsa, Mariam, and Ruqayyah from Denbigh High School in Luton

“Before, I didn’t really like computer science. This course helped me think differently about it and it’s so much more fun when you collaborate with each other. It really showed me how important computer science can be. It’s a really good opportunity to show your creativity”. Hafsa, Mariam and Ruqayyah

Hafsa, Mariam and Ruqayyah told us how the course had helped them grow in confidence and practice presentation skills through pitching their idea to different audiences. This included presenting to the school’s senior leadership team, hundreds of parents and teachers at the school’s Excellence Evening, not to mention pitching to industry experts from Apps for Good partners OVO Energy and BNY Mellon! But that wasn’t enough for these girls - they embraced our industry engagement opportunities and went on to take part in a hackathon with employees from OVO Energy which saw them become the expert dragons, judging climate action ideas pitched from the OVO Energy team. There was even a rumour that the students' own ElectroSaver app idea was so good, OVO Energy employees wanted to replicate it!

Emma Darcy, Director of Technology for Learning at Denbigh High School and the Chiltern Learning Trust, is the driving force behind engagement in Apps for Good within the Multi Academy Trust. Emma shared feedback that she received from a member of the Denbigh teaching team.

“I’ve been teaching one of the girls all year and tonight, I watched her stand up in front of all these people and present like that. I am so impressed! She’s got the skills, confidence and public speaking timing that some adults spend years trying to learn. I am absolutely blown away by all of the students.”

Hafsa, Mariam and Ruqayyah addressed their audience of hundreds of parents, teachers, students, and their own families and demonstrated the skills they’ve developed. Ruqayyah said, “my family were very proud and really impressed. My brother thinks I am famous.”

Denbigh High School is part of the Chiltern Learning Trust, a Multi-Academy Trust made up of 16 schools in Luton and Bedfordshire. Rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, the school caters for over a thousand students aged 11-16 in one of the most economically deprived wards in the region. Committed to embedding digital skills across the curriculum, students are equipped with Chromebooks when appropriate for use across all lessons, not just in computing lessons.

Emma Darcy said, “The digital skills learnt as part of this course are wide ranging and highly impactful. Whatever job these girls have in the future, they’ll need these digital skills. You empower these students and they will talk passionately about how their ideas have the potential to change the world. - It’s developing both digital learning and oracy on a whole new level.”

Emma introduced Apps for Good to the school 9 years ago to give students the opportunity to broaden their horizons and explore careers that they don’t even know exist yet. Not only was Emma attracted by the links to industry, she was amazed to find a free of charge course that offered such breadth. Emma feels that the fact that any teacher can pick up and deliver the course, regardless of their own technology proficiency, is an added bonus.

Going even further in 2023, this year the Chiltern Learning Trust is supporting the delivery of the Apps For Good Innovate for Climate Change course across all of its schools. Teachers and students from primary, secondary, middle and upper schools will have the chance to collaborate together and support each other as they develop their own app concepts. As well as entering the Apps for Good national Showcase, the Trust will be hosting its own Climate Change and Digital Innovation Summit in April 2023, where students will be presenting all of the ideas created as part of the course.