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Ocado's technology team to release primary school coding tool

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Ocado’s technology team is launching Code for Life, the online grocer’s initiative to help children learn to code.

Ocado Technology, whose in-house developed solutions power Ocado.com, aims to equip schoolchildren with the computer coding skills they’ll need for the future.

“Teaching children to program is not just about nurturing the next generation of software engineers,” said Paul Clarke, director of technology at Ocado. “Being able to write code is a transformative and disruptive meta-skill that needs to be seen as being of huge potential value whatever your future holds. I would go so far as to say that it is a survival skill that our children need to acquire to flourish in the increasingly digital and online future that awaits them.”

The announcement comes six weeks before a new Computing curriculum is introduced to UK primary schools. Ocado Technology’s research among 250 English primary school teachers showed 73% said they did not have the resources they need to teach the curriculum from September.

Ocado Technology employees have volunteered more than 400 hours to build a Rapid Router web app. Rapid Router, the first in a series of educational resources that the division is creating, introduces children to visual programming tool Blockly. An extension will be available later in the year to deal with the transition from Blockly to the widely-used Python programming language.

Clarke said: “As a technology company at its core, Ocado relies on recruiting a constant stream of the brightest and best software engineers and other IT specialists to fuel its continued growth and disruptive innovation.

“We wanted to find a way to give something back by investing in the next generation of computer scientists, while hopefully increasing the number of girls selecting technology subjects.”

Paulina Koch, Ocado Technology intern, said: “I’ve been working with developers from across Ocado Technology who’ve volunteered to build this resource after work and at weekends. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work with teachers and pupils to ensure the app delivers exactly what they need. Knowing it will be used by thousands of pupils around the country to gain skills that will benefit their future is a really exciting prospect.”

Teachers can pre-register at www.codeforlife.education to get information and access the free resource from September 1.

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