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UEL computer scientist wins £96,000 grant to bring coding project to local schools

 Coding through robotics initiative will begin in early 2018

A computer scientist at the University of East London (UEL) has won a £96,000 grant to bring the world of computer coding and robotics to secondary school and college students in Thurrock, Essex. 

Mr Gaurav Malik, a computing lecturer at UEL, has won the grant from Make Happen, a group of educational providers, local employers, and non-profits working together to increase the proportion of people from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups going to university.  

The project will launch in early 2018.

Mr Malik said, “Coding through robotics, with help from UEL student mentors and input from employers and careers advisers, is a practical and fun way to inspire young people to think about a degree and career in science or technology. The industry is growing and well-trained graduates will be in demand.”

A recently published report on computer education by the Royal Society found that 54 per cent of secondary schools did not offer GCSE computer science in 2015-16.

UEL is a member of the 11-19 Thurrock Strategy Group which is co-designing and co-delivering the programme with the University. The-day-to-day running of the project will be looked after by UEL’s Education and Community Partnerships Team and a group of UEL student mentors.

The project hopes to reach a core group of 175 students through 15 interactive coding club sessions in schools and colleges across Thurrock, plus a wider group of 3,000 students, teachers and parents through assemblies and masterclasses.

Organisers also plan to invite motivational guest speakers to talk to students, and  will host careers advice events. 

Mr Malik also runs UEL’s annual Hour of Code, which invites local primary school pupils and teachers to campus for a day to learn how to code. The event has been ongoing for several years.

Mr Malik said, “The UK was one of the first countries to introduce compulsory computer science into schools from the age of five, and computer devices are an integral part of young peoples’ lives today.

“Students are computer literate but this project will help them make the connection between what they use and how it works.”