Tascomi is delighted to announce a new initiative, with a local primary school, Pond Park PS, Lisburn.  We are very aware of the vital importance for children to become familiar with how software programmes are built, at an early stage of their educational journey.

Recently, the Northern Ireland Digital Summit, organised by Momentum and attended by 6 Ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive heard how the introduction of computer coding at aged 8 would transform the Northern Ireland economy over the next ten years.

Richard Martin of Tascomi said:

There is currently a serious shortage of qualified programmers throughout Ireland meaning companies like ours have to outsource staff in order to fulfill the encouraging increase in demand for our services. We welcome the very positive steps by the Department of Education and CCEA in introducing a new Software Development A-Level in the past year, but we feel more radical action needs taken to ensure that children are learning these vital skills from an early age. The opportunity to learn is most often dependent upon the teacher’s skills in delivering the changes to curricula. We would welcome steps similar to those announced recently for schools in England where specialists are being brought into schools to teach programming, such is the urgency of the situation businesses are contending with.

He added,

“We were delighted that Minister for Education John O’Dowd took time to come to Pond Park yesterday to hear from teachers and kids how much they want to teach and learn to code. He was certainly in listening mode, and we were very impressed with his contribution to the discussion. With nursery-aged children being proficient with a mobile enabled device, it’s critical that their older siblings are equipped with the ability and knowledge to avail of the employment opportunities in our IT industry. The sector is thriving with creativity and everyone especially children, parents and educators need to be informed and provide the tools to carve something very significant for this country. Tascomi feels it must do something to echo the call at the Digital Summit as we represent the very real needs of industry. We are confident that the knowledge our developers share will help sow the seeds of inspiration in the nine year olds at Pond Park and hopefully ignite keen interests that can be rewarded with jobs in their local economy in years to come.

Michael Noble, interim chief executive of Momentum said the organisation has been working hard to help develop a roadmap to help ensure that education here takes the need for change into account.

We’ve submitted our Digital Strategy document to the relevant departments – DEL, DETI, DCAL and of course, the Department of Education and have met with them to discuss the proposals within the document. We’re in the process of lobbying for the changes outlined and will hopefully launch the document in late February. We welcome the recent announcement of 400 ‘master teachers’ being recruited across the water in an initiative by the British Computer Society which aims to upskill teachers to the point where they can start teaching kids coding from early in their primary school education. Tascomi’s initiative is another step on the road to us achieving that aim here in Northern Ireland.

Geoffrey Cherry, Principal of Pond Park Primary School said

It’s fantastic to welcome Richard and Phil from Tascomi to Pond Park – we are great champions of mentoring in this school and to have our children receive such expert direction from the IT industry is a brilliant opportunity for them. IT and particularly coding are now, without any doubt, a key component of our children’s education, and essential to equip them to take their place in our changing economy. As such, we hope that other schools and businesses are able to offer this important inspiration to pupils and most critically, we call on the Minister to make enhanced training available for the teaching profession, so that the necessary up-skilling can take place.”

Sam Mayes, P5 pupil Pond Park Primary School shows his programming skills to John O’Dowd MLA, NI Minister of Education, Richard Martin, M.D. Tascomi Ltd and Geoffery Cherry, Principal of Pond Park Primary School