Leading technology, education and supplier organisations collaborate to support the initiative which will see just under 700k micro:bits sent to UK schools and promotion by familiar CBBC brands
13 September 2023 – Primary school children will start the new school year with enriched support to learn vital computing and digital creativity skills as the BBC micro:bit – the next gen campaign rolls out to schools across the UK. Tens of thousands of micro:bit classroom sets will be distributed for free, as well as brand-new teaching resources to accelerate computational thinking, programming, digital creativity and machine learning knowledge among primary school pupils.
This ambitious UK-wide project, which aims to inspire all youngsters to be excited by technology, is led by BBC Education, Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet but has only been made possible by the contribution of partners across the technology and education industries. Committed to helping address the digital skills and digital diversity gap, numerous partners from Britain and further afield have contributed their unique skills, resources and time to ensure the successful delivery of this initiative.
Britain’s brightest tech companies and leading global suppliers
Nominet, who runs the .UK internet infrastructure, is a lead partner in this project. Having funded 700,000 devices to be distributed to primary schools across the UK – delivering 30 free devices per school – alongside free educational resources and teacher training provided by the BBC and Micro:bit Educational Foundation. Last year, it co-funded research with the Foundation among UK primary school teachers, which was fundamental in shaping this campaign, as it identified the unique challenges facing primary school teachers in bringing digital skills and computing concepts into the classroom. Teachers want to bring digital into the classroom more, and by providing free training and classroom resources this project will give teachers the necessary boost of confidence to do so.
Leading semiconductor designer ARM has also been a long-time partner to the Foundation, providing technical expertise to help craft the original micro:bit. As part of this project, it is also providing a bursary to underserved schools who need additional support to participate.
To meet the scale of this project, offering just under 700,000 devices, the biggest project the Foundation has ever committed to, it is working with its two trusted manufacturers and global distributors, OKdo and Farnell. OKdo and Farnell will manufacture the micro:bits and OKdo will distribute all micro:bit devices for this campaign, while STMicroelectronics has supplied the accelerometer and magnetometer (a key component for bringing the micro:bit to life in the classroom) at a reduced cost.
World-class education partners
The micro:bit and its accompanying resources are purpose-designed for use in a classroom setting, informed by education experts and with teachers in mind. As such, equally important to this project is the provision of education tools and services, and support for practitioners on the ground. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) has provided teacher training and campaign support to schools in Northern Ireland, with Education Scotland providing the respective role in Scotland, the National Centre for Computing Education doing so for England and the Regional Education Consortia and Technocamps doing so throughout Wales.
BBC Education is a lead delivery partner in the project and is respected worldwide for its educational content. It is amplifying this project across its channels and has helped develop resources that bring computing concepts into partnership with much-loved CBBC brands and stars.
Both Lancaster University and Microsoft are founding partners of the Foundation. They continue to support as Microsoft provide the Microsoft MakeCode editor and Lancaster University support the underlying firmware for the micro:bit. Both organisations are working to deliver further aspects of the project such as the playground survey in 2024.
Gareth Stockdale, CEO, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said:
“Our experience and research show how pivotal early learning confidence and interest is to encourage longer-term engagement of technology-related studies. Capturing children’s attention in these formative primary school years is critical which is why this project is so important.
But a project this ambitious simply couldn’t happen without the support of a wide range of industry and education partners dedicating funds, expertise and resources to it. With their generosity and support, we are preparing to welcome the next generation of teachers and pupils to the power of the micro:bit and introduce them to a world of digital creativity, fun and opportunities.”
Notes to editors:
Launched as part of the BBC’s pioneering Make It Digital initiative in 2014, the BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that gives children an enjoyable way to learn digital creativity and programming skills, enabling them to shape their best digital future. Following the initial launch, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation was founded in 2016 as a non-profit organisation, continuing to develop, advance and extend the reach of the micro:bit and accompanying resources across the globe.
About Micro:bit Educational Foundation
The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.
We do this by:
Nominet is a public benefit company, driven by a commitment to use technology to improve connectivity, security and inclusivity online. Since 1996, Nominet has run the .UK internet infrastructure, developing an expertise in the Domain Name System (DNS) that now underpins sophisticated threat monitoring, detection, prevention, and analytics that is used by governments to mitigate cyber threats. Our social impact programme provides funding, support and opportunities to help tackle some of the most important digital issues facing young people in the UK today. www.nominet.uk
In 2021 Nominet commissioned a research partner, Discovery, to establish a benchmark for how primary teachers in the UK are currently using micro:bit devices in their lessons. Whilst being aimed at children 8-14, the vast majority of devices are used in secondary schools. This benchmark and research has informed the development of the programme being launched now.
Currently in year 3 of a 3 year cycle, the research to date has shown that insufficient time for teachers is the primary barrier for uptake, followed by a lack of relevant training and having the correct resources to help teach students. Many non-users report a lack of confidence in using micro:bits, though the research has found that the longer teachers have access to micro:bits and the training resources with them the more their confidence in using them in their teaching increases. Further, teachers reported in the qualitative research that having access to enough working devices for an entire classroom removes barriers – enabling them to teach an entire class.
You can then see how this research has led to the creation of the programme, where it is hoped that the provision of an entire classroom’s worth of micro:bits, plus new and improved content and resources, is aimed to improve uptake and the provision of digital skills education in primary schools.
CCEA is the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment. CCEA places learners and those who have a concern for their educational and personal development at the forefront of its thinking.
At ST, we are more than 50,000 creators and makers of semiconductor technologies mastering the semiconductor supply chain with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. An integrated device manufacturer, we work with more than 200,000 customers and thousands of partners to design and build products, solutions, and ecosystems that address their challenges and opportunities, and the need to support a more sustainable world. We are committed to carbon neutrality on scope 1 and 2 and partially scope 3 by 2027.
Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
About STEM Learning
STEM Learning is a non-profit organisation dedicated to raising young people’s engagement and achievement in STEM. It is the largest UK provider of STEM education and careers support to schools, colleges and community groups working with young people. Visit www.stem.org.uk
The National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by STEM Learning. It marks a significant investment in improving the provision of computing education in England and aims to transform the way computing is taught in schools across the country enabling more young people to benefit from studying this important subject. Visit https://teachcomputing.org/
About Farnell Global
Farnell Global is a fast and reliable distributor of products and technology for electronic and industrial system design, maintenance and repair. From research and design through prototype to production, Farnell helps its customers access the products and services they need 24/7. With more than 80 years of experience, 47 localised websites, and a dedicated team of over 3,500 employees, Farnell provides every component its customers need to build the technology of tomorrow.
Farnell Global trades as Farnell in Europe, Newark in North America, and element14 in Asia Pacific. It also sells direct to consumers through its CPC business in the UK.
Farnell Global has been part of the established global technology distributor, Avnet (Nasdaq: AVT), since 2016. Today, this relationship allows the company to support its customers at every stage of the product life cycle, offering a truly unique distribution model, as well as expertise in end-to-end delivery and product design.
About Education Scotland
Education Scotland is the national body for supporting quality and improvement of learning and teaching in Scottish education. https://education.gov.scot/
About Lancaster University
Lancaster University is a highly ranked collegiate university with a global reputation for teaching and research. https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/
OKdo is a global technology company from RS Group plc which is disrupting single board computer (SBC) and IoT segments. Offering a unique combination of hardware, software, development support, and manufacturing services to inspire and enable customers to generate new ideas and turn them into commercial reality. They are on a global mission to deliver the imagination, creativity, and technical expertise our customer’s desire. To learn more, please visit www.okdo.com.
Technocamps is a wide-reaching digital programme. Our main goal is to support digital upskilling across Wales through our strong partnerships with all Welsh universities. https://www.technocamps.com/en/