World’s first IT lesson with Raspberry Pi shows the future of ICT education

element 14 and Leeds Ahead’s ‘Make the Grade’ programme collaborate to inspire pupils to consider career opportunities in science and technology

element14, the first collaborative community and electronics store for design engineers and electronics enthusiasts and a part of global electronics distributor Premier Farnell, has donated a much coveted Raspberry Pi to Swallow Hill Community College in Leeds and held a master class with pupils and teachers to highlight the device’s huge potential as an inspirational teaching aid. The initiative is part of a wider programme with Farnell element 14 partnering with social enterprise, Leeds Ahead in a programme called ‘Make the Grade’.

element 14 is committed to playing its part in pioneering the necessary change in ICT teaching by working with schools and social enterprise bodies to help reignite childrens’ passion for science and technology.  The teaching of information and communications technology (ICT) in UK schools has been a hot topic for many months with Ofsted, Schools Minister Nick Gibb, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove and most recently Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, all of whom share a desire to enhance current teaching practices. Areas such as databases and programming often lack real-life relevance, which can inspire the majority of pupils. Where pupils do develop a specific interest in the subject, the experience they receive externally complements what they learn in the classroom and often spurs them onto greater achievement.

At the master class children aged between 11-12 worked in groups under the instruction of Mike Powell, Technical Development Manger, element 14 to create a number of web pages, using the Raspberry Pi as mini web server. The exercise was aimed at demonstrating the availability and use of open source applications, such as Linux, and to show the range of applications for the Raspberry Pi.

Speaking at the class Mike Powell commented: “The Raspberry Pi is the ideal teaching aid to inspire a new generation of engineers and computer experts, the added value of the element 14 community also means that rather than simply providing the equipment we can provide an invaluable online resource for anyone to discuss, share and develop ideas involving the Raspberry Pi. Today has been great fun and we’re really looking forward to helping pupils at Swallow Hill find out just what else the Raspberry Pi can do.”

“The master class was a fantastic opportunity for our kids to get an insight into the opportunities available with modern IT. We hope that days like this and the continued use of the Raspberry Pi at Swallow Hill will really inspire the pupils to consider careers in the field and give them a competitive advantage in a world were computer skills are more essential than ever,” commented Bryan Pearce Assistant Principal, Swallow Hill Community College.

“The Raspberry Pi master class is the perfect example of what we do at Leeds Ahead, bringing the private sector together with public organisations to unlock social potential. Getting the pupils of Swallow Hill interested in programming and sharing the expertise of element 14 will not only benefit the children, but also local communities as the children develop new skills which can be reinvested in the future,” added Sophie Nesworthy, Project Coordinator, Leeds Ahead.

Leeds Ahead works with the public and private sectors to foster social and economic regeneration in the city, in a bid to search for new talent coming through the ranks.  element14 and Leeds Ahead’s ‘Make the Grade’ programme will be working with the school to create structured and tailored plans to offer pupils greater insight into a range of career opportunities.