FUTURE TECH CITY: #Croydon #TechCity’s education revolution begins

By - Wednesday 18th December, 2013

As #Croydon #TechCity prepares for the final event of the year on Thursday December 19th 7:30pm @MatthewsYard, Founder Jonny Rose recounts the success of their first major education event

On Saturday November 30th, over one hundred parents, teachers, governors, students and children walked into the world-famous BRIT School’s largest auditorium for Future Tech City – Croydon’s largest tech-education event.

John O’Donovan (CTO, The Financial Times) speaking at Future Tech City
Photo: Fluid4Sight

Future Tech City is the brainchild of Croydon Tech City (spearheaded by co-founder Nigel Dias) as a means to service, support and encourage the take-up of computer programming and coding by as many young people as possible in Croydon; to prepare them for the tech economy of the future and for their personal development.

Over the course of the day, attendees heard from illustrious speakers including John O’Donovan (CTO, The Financial Times), Paul Barnett (Owner of ICUK & Europe’s first social network), Debbie Forster (COO, Apps4Good), Matt Gaunt (Chrome Developer Advocate at Google) and Sam Milsom (Volunteer Support Officer, Code Club).

Kicking off the morning, Simon Collins, Principal at BRIT School, gave a few words on why they have teamed up with Croydon Tech City:

“In years to come, we want BRIT School to have as good a name for coding as it does for the performing arts”

Following this was John O’Donovan’s talk explaining what tech skills are and dispelling popular prejudices about the tech industry; far from being populated with anti-social oddities, computer programmers are now cool, ambitious and at the cultural forefront of society.

John was proof of this – humorously explaining his career ascendance from Croydon’s Allders “to the top of the tree as a fancy-pants CTO of The Financial Times”, joking that this was as much to do with his own talents as it is to do with the massive skills shortage in the sector.

“Far from constricting you to a life behind a screen, learning tech skills is a Willy Wonka ticket to any job or industry you want” – Debbie Forster, Apps4Good

The panel session with Google, ICUK and Apps4Good provided a forum for parents and teachers to put their questions to the experts. The questions were as revelatory about the state of Croydon education as the answers: “How can our primary school provide IT homework when children can’t afford computers at home?” “What sort of equipment should we invest in if all becomes obsolete quickly?”

Audience at Future Tech City

It quickly became apparent that far from feeling qualified and prepared to teach young children the fundamentals of computing, Croydon’s primary staff felt under exceeding pressure from central and local government to provide IT education. Fortunately, a concluding talk from Code Club on ‘How To Set Up A Code Club’ went some way to alleviate the teachers’ concerns.

Perhaps the most rewarding moment of the day was an impassioned speech by 16 year old Amelia McGuffie, who explained how difficult she had found being a female interested in tech and how Future Tech City made her more confident than ever that this was the industry for her.

The day ended with around twenty primary-aged children who had come with their parents exhibiting the Code Club computer programs they had coded in BRIT School’s IT suite with the Future Tech City volunteers. It was incredible to see what young minds could conjure up and create in the space of a few hours – how much more so if they are given the ongoing framework to do so.

Croydon Tech City has an internal target to get a Code Club into every Croydon primary school by 2015.

If you are a teacher, parent or developer in Croydon interested in supporting this, please get in contact with explaining how you could help us.

A video by Fluid4sight of the very first Future Tech City event:

Special thanks to our volunteers on the day, including: Jack Valentine, Margaret Chatelier, Monique Rebeiro, Paul Sinnett, Marc Roberts, Marc Grossman, Saleha Salahudin and Neil Spellings.

 Thanks also to Alexa Cruikshank and Simon Collins of The BRIT School.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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