Microsoft pilot programme to expand the reach of BBC micro:bit

35 Showcase Schools to receive 15,000 additional BBC micro:bits

At Microsoft we love the ambition of the BBC micro:bit, an initiative designed to get a pocket-sized, codeable computer into the hands of nearly a million young people in the UK. From the off we knew that we wanted to play a leading role in a project designed specifically to encourage more young people to discover the unmatched creative potential of coding and digital skills.

We’ve worked with the BBC and other partners to provide two easy-to-use code editors for the device and invaluable support for teachers so that they could help pupils get the most out of it in the classroom.

We also knew that we wanted to find a way to do more, expand the reach of the BBC micro:bit still further and give more young people the opportunity to be inspired by using the device. And with the BBC micro:bits coming to every single Year 7 child or equivalent in the country next year, we are planning on doing exactly that.

As part of a pilot programme launched today, we are committing to buy 15,000 additional BBC micro:bits once they become commercially available next year, and will give them to the 35 UK schools in our global Showcase Schools programme. Once all Year 7 pupils in the UK receive their BBC micro:bit next year from the BBC, this pilot will then give every single pupil in these Microsoft Showcase schools the chance to benefit from this innovative piece of hardware. This is only the first step in our efforts to get more BBC micro:bits into the hands of a wider group of young people.

Microsoft UK Vice President Michel Van der Bel, who visited Eastlea Community School today with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and BBC Director-General Tony Hall, met pupils who were among the first to spend time learning to code with their BBC micro:bits.

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., and Lord Tony Hall, BBC director general on Eastlea Community School visit, micro:bit (‘a million ways to inspire a generation’), London on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. Photographer: Sebastian Devenish - Microsoft
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., and Lord Tony Hall, BBC director general on Eastlea Community School visit, micro:bit (‘a million ways to inspire a generation’), London on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. Photographer: Sebastian Devenish – Microsoft

He said, “The creativity of the pupils at Eastlea shows just what’s possible, things we never dreamed of when we first joined the BBC micro:bit project. This really can inspire a whole new generation to become digital makers.”

We have a responsibility to show young people the creative power of digital skills and to help them learn these skills, because the ability to code opens up a new world of opportunity in the 21st Century. Our experience of the BBC micro:bit has already shown us that bringing young minds, flexible hardware and the power of innovative software together creates transformative and inspirational results.

Chinye Jibunoh, Principal at Eastlea Community School said “We’re thrilled at the opportunity of being able to use the BBC micro:bit with children across all our year groups. Putting these devices in the hands of our youngest learners is an exciting prospect and opens up endless possibilities for creativity through technology.”

The BBC micro:bit is a groundbreaking collaboration between 29 partners including ARM, Barclays, BBC, element14, Freescale, Lancaster University, Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, Samsung, ScienceScope, Technology Will Save Us and the Welcome Trust to give a pocket-sized computer to every year 7 child in the UK for free; its ambition is to inspire digital creativity and develop a new generation of tech pioneers.

Microsoft’s Showcase Schools programme is designed to recognise schools which are leading the way in the use of technology and giving their pupils the skills they need to flourish in today’s digital world. Our aim is to create a community of best practice and inspirational leadership which can amplify the benefits technology brings and help other schools get the most out of the technology in their classroom. We promote and publicise Showcase Schools in the UK and around the world, support them with initiatives like the BBC micro:bit pilot, and help them engage with other schools who have the opportunity to benefit from their leadership and experience.

If your school would like to get involved in our Showcase Schools programme, you can sign up to be considered as an Associate Showcase School here.

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