Spotlight on Wales: Cracking the Code with Minecraft, and #MIEExperts at NDLE


A digitally skilled workforce is vital for the future of the economy and the prosperity of the UK. With an estimated 100,000 new coding jobs expected to be in existence in the UK by 2020, ensuring that today's young learners are being adequately encouraged and supported in taking up STEM subjects is hugely important if there are to be enough appropriately skilled graduates and school leavers to fill those jobs.

Microsoft is proud to be supporting the Welsh government's recently unveiled programme to boost coding and computing skills among young learners in Wales. Last week, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams announced Cracking the Code - an initiative to support the teaching of coding skills both in and outside of the classroom in local areas across Wales. Along with £1.3 million of funding from the Welsh government, the initiative is being supported by schools, colleges, consortia, universities, industry, charities and businesses - including Microsoft.

As part of the Cracking the Code initiative, Microsoft will be helping the Welsh government by launching a Minecraft Education pilot programme, to support the development of young people’s digital skills through the use of Minecraft: Education Edition Code Builder.

Learn more about Cracking the Code, and Microsoft's involvement, on our UK News Centre:

Wales’ £1m plan to boost coding among youngsters backed by Microsoft and others



As well as plans for the future, Wales has been seen as a digital leader in education for some time. Last week, the National Digital Learning Event in Swansea brought together school leaders, teachers, students and guest speakers for a day of workshops, talks, and awards and celebrations to acknowledge the fantastic work and achievements of all involved.

#MIEExpert and MIE Trainers Paul Watkins of Ysgol Bae Baglan and James Protheroe of Darran Park Primary were both in attendance, with Paul reflecting on the event below:


#MIEExpert Report - NDLE, Swansea, June 2017


Inspirational, amazing, enjoyable, idea cultivating and exciting were all words that flooded social media on Wednesday. These tweets and posts were as a result of teachers from across Wales joining together at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea for the National Digital Learning Event.

It was clear from the start, that as educators in Wales we should be very proud of the digital learning going on across the country. As a nation, we can be thankful for a government who has driven this, and all the way down to classroom level the benefits have been observed in helping to culture a generation of digitally competent learners. It was clear through the keynote speakers that Wales has the eyes of the world upon it at this time, with the introduction of the Digital Competency Framework.

Hearing from speakers such as John Jackson (London Grid for Learning), Kirsty Tonks, Mark Anderson and Ross McGill, teachers were inspired and encouraged throughout the day. When the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, declared from the stage that we have so much to proud of, celebrating a day of positives of Welsh practice and pathways for improvement, with one essential purpose -our amazing learners - it made those present realise we are part of something very special.

During the day attendees visited the market place where you were greeted by teachers from across Wales sharing innovative and award-winning classroom practices that inspired teachers when engaging with the DCF. Comments flooded in about how teachers appreciated this part of the event and have taken much back to their schools.

Part of this event was to celebrate and recognise the work going on in the classrooms. With categories such as E-Safety, Pupil Project, Resource and Digital Project the inspiration continued. There was much celebration in the room when winners were greeted on stage by Professor Graham Donaldson and presented with their awards. From pupils running Pegi Awareness sessions to digital competency skills for parents, teachers and pupils were publicly acknowledged. In addition to the main awards the judges felt it was appropriate to also award in some categories a ‘Highly Commended Award’.

We were thrilled to receive this acknowledgement for our work with Skype in the Classroom at Ysgol Bae Baglan. Our project – Skype Club - was commended for its work in providing global education to pupils, providing a platform to develop global and digital citizenship whilst striving to inspire and raise aspirations. This project also serves another purpose – to enrich teaching and learning, to introduce the educational benefits of SITC to teachers, who are invited to come to Skype Club to join in with pupils – a great way to run staff training! This year we have visited every continent, both poles and have travelled over 100,000 virtual miles. It was thrilling to receive this award, but what’s more thrilling is what lies ahead – our adventures are only getting started!

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