Having worked with many talented young coders in her 25 year career in teaching, RSA Fellow Karen Scott used the findings from her research projects to develop an idea for a rich work experience. futureCoders has moved from an idea to a working entity and is now crowdfunding to help raise sufficient funding to get started, to start to build a client base and to run a six month pilot to get some preliminary measures of impact.

“Between December 2016 and January 2017 futureCoders ran a one month trial pilot. We took on three students and looked for volunteers to help us. I was joined by Emily Orton, an existing friend who had skills to offer and, more importantly, the same level of passion for the project. Emily, a Business Analyst and Product Owner, brought vital project management and client liaison skills to the pilot. I had built a network of contacts and had some development skills to offer.

One student dropped out after the induction session but the other two, Jake and Riaz were real stars, committing to the project and bringing their own perspectives to what we were doing. We will always be grateful to both for their input. You can read about the project we took on here

Despite only having four full days and three evenings, in various locations, we managed to produce a working back end and a skeleton front end for our young clients. The skeleton front end was requested so that the Base-2 team could carry on with the development themselves. I am giving some support with this development on a voluntary basis.” Karen Scott, FRSA, founder of futureCoders.

The futureCoders model allows students to gain real, long-term, software development, work experience while they are still in full-time college or sixth-form education:

- students work in teams with professional developers

- one afternoon/evening midweek and one Saturday per week

- build high quality apps following Agile, and software craftsmanship, techniques

- real projects for charity/non-profits clients

Participation in the futureCoders work experience programme has the following advantages for the student:

- long term placements (up to one year throughout Year 12 or 13), a real chance to develop

- students play a full part in the development process with their teams

- opportunities to develop personal and employability skills through team work and client interaction

- a real focus for those students who are keen coders and are already teaching themselves new languages, working with client requirements

- a great learning opportunity, students will need to learn to work with some unfamiliar technologies

- students learn about current working practice, through working in Agile teams with a craftsmanship approach to development.

- futureCoders network with relevant employers to identify opportunities for further work experience, job openings and, importantly, higher level/degree apprenticeships.

The first pilot resulted in a product developed by the team, with Karen leading the development and Emily managing the project. One student developer, was offered further work experience, through Karen’s contacts with a mobile app development company. This was a real bonus and a great result for this student to have the confidence to take on the further role.

Further information on futureCoders and on Karen’s research projects can be found at the links below:

The Kickstarter campaign will help to raise funds to get the six month pilot going. The initial ask is for £10,000 but the estimate total amount needed is £30,000 so other funding streams are being applied for and any pledges above the Kickstarter target will be warmly welcomed.

WCMT report into technical vocational education and links with industry in Scotland, Denmark and Japan.

Exploring the effect of industry involvement in raising motivation.

What makes a good work experience placement?

Karen is appealing for support from individuals and companies to help ensure that the current six-month pilot succeeds and allows futureCoders to build a body of work to showcase what is possible. With an eventual aim to become self-sustaining while maintaining a non-profit constitution, futureCoders just needs a kickstart. Anyone pledging support through the futureCoders Kickstarter campaign will be helping to make a real difference to the career prospects of keen young coders and, at the same time, helping to provide access to affordable software solutions for a range of social purposes.

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