The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation has launched its first computer science course for state school pupils against the backdrop of education funding challenges and skills shortages in the tech sector.
The new course for Year 9s will transform the way computer science is taught in classrooms and focuses on data science to give young people the ability to understand and solve real-world challenges.
Around 50 pupils have started the course at Sheffield’s Tapton School, the first institution to work with the foundation, a charitable endeavour from the founder and chief executive of Live Data software company WANdisco plc.
David and his wife Jane launched the UK charity to encourage young people to fulfil their potential and inspire the next generation of UK technology entrepreneurs.
They believe the Government’s current emphasis on coding in the classroom is misguided as programming is at risk of automation.
In the first module, pupils will work together as project teams and study how performance can be improved through the use of data analytics.
They will analyse Big Data to solve problems and plan improvements to predictions and look at how data can inform decision making.
In the second module, pupils will develop their skills and knowledge in the Internet of Things (IoT) by designing, building and testing sensors to gather and process data.
In the third module, the project teams will identify a problem to solve using Big Data, implement an IoT network to collect information and analyse the results to improve performance.
Meanwhile, civic and business leaders in Sheffield are fighting for a fair deal on education spending and claim that the Government’s new formula puts the city and its children at a serious disadvantage in the funding of state schools.
At the same time, the tech sector is facing a skills shortage with more than two thirds of technology employers experiencing skills shortages this year, according to detailed industry research.
David Richards said: “We believe the advancement of computing education, starting at Tapton School, will help young people to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial, just the sort of skills we will need in the future.
“At a time when state education funding is under pressure and the tech sector is experiencing skills shortages, we are proud to be playing our part in helping young people to fulfil their potential and have successful and rewarding careers.
“We are excited about the launch of our new computer science course and look forward to rolling it out to other schools in the future.”
The foundation recruited Professor Chris Brady, one of the UK’s best-known business school academics, to work in conjunction with Tapton School to design the computer science course.
In Sheffield, civic and business campaigners have voiced fears about the combined impact of a new National Funding Formula, the real terms funding cuts that stem from multiple years of stand-still budgets and the historic underfunding of Sheffield in comparison with similar places.
About the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation
David Richards, the founder and chief executive of WANdisco plc, set up djrff.org with wife Jane to educate, empower and improve the lives of children.
The foundation is registered as a charitable incorporated organisation to operate throughout England.
Its trustees are Professor Chris Brady, director of the Centre for Sports Business at the University of Salford, Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, and Herb Kim, founder and CEO of Thinking Digital.
Its aims are the advancement of computing and ecology education in state schools and the advancement of environmental protection and improvement.
The foundation is supporting the installation and running costs of beehives and bee colonies at a number of state schools in Sheffield, starting with Wisewood Primary School.
David and Jane Richards have donated £1.1m to fund its work.