Software Cornwall Education Outreach

by Robert Wiltshire in Redruth, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 21st March 2019 we successfully raised £15,320 with 61 supporters in 42 days

We reached over 13,700 students last year. We want to continue the good work reaching out to even more pupils throughout Cornwall.

by Robert Wiltshire in Redruth, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Award Winning Careers Information

The Software Cornwall Education Outreach programme has been in operation for now for four years. We need additional funds to continue with the amazing work that has been going on around the county.

In 2018 it won awards for:

Best Careers Provider in the West and South-West from the Careers Enterprise Company

The Most Inspirational Educational IT/Digital/Multimedia Project at the Cornwall Live Edge Awards.

The Education Outreach programme provides:

  • Career assemblies to year groups in schools and colleges around Cornwall
  • Workshops in classrooms
  • Attendance at careers fairs in schools, colleges and job centres
  • Work Experience weeks 3 times a year with the Mission to Mars
  • Saturday Tech Jams open to all every month in either Camborne, Bodmin or Penzance

With cutbacks in current funding streams we can no longer support all this provision. But with additional support all of this will be possible to maintain. It is only through continued repeated visits to schools that students become more engaged in thinking about their future careers.

Year 10 Work Experience week at Heartlands.

A Year 10 work experience week on a Mission to Mars held at Heartlands July 2018.

Cornwall is an area of lower wages and restricted career options. Students may not have access at home or at school to the technology that we can provide. By giving them the opportunity to experience software creation they may not only enjoy it but hopefully want to develop it further themselves. 

Youngsters who previously may not have considered software development as a career option in Cornwall may leave the county to find work. By showing them that technology really is a career option locally we hope to keep their talent here. And they will be rewarded well too.

As well as visiting establishments we also need to maintain the provision of the week long Mission to Mars Work Experience and the Saturday Tech Jams for students where they come to us and have a go for free. Especially important to those who do not have access anywhere else. It's a great way for them to meet others interested in the same things and for parents to ask about the equipment themselves and the opportunities for their children.

Crowded Software Cornwall Tech Jam in Bodmin

A crowded Tech Jam at Chy Trevail in Bodmin. Open to all ages and held every month, except August, in either Bodmin, Pool or Penzance.

What we are trying to achieve.

Cornwall has many deprived areas where access to technology in the home just isn’t available. But this shouldn't be allowed to limit their chances.

The Saturday Tech Jams provide youngsters and their parents that all important opportunity for free. Software Cornwall provides all the hardware and experience to introduce the youngsters (and some of the older generation) to creating code for computer programs. Teachers from the schools often drop in too for a chat. Professional software developers from the Software Cornwall members also support the events providing the attendees with assistance.

Over the last year we have had funding to run the activities and to provide careers support into secondary schools in Cornwall. This has provided careers assemblies to whole year groups, workshops in classes, attending school careers fairs and other career events held around Cornwall.

The funding stream can now no longer provide for all of the outreach we are capable of providing. 

With this Crowdfund we hope to bridge that gap and continue with all the good work we have started.

"It was a really good time and I enjoyed every second of it and there isn't anything else you can do to make this brilliant experience any better." - student feedback.

Collaboration works.

The majority of software companies in Cornwall are small. Working alone it would be very difficult for them to make much of an impression on student career decisions. But by many small companies working together the impact is greater.

Students working as a team on the Mission code back in October 2017.

The visits are to open students eyes to the technology they use on a daily basis that is being developed by companies on their doorstep. It is not something that is only made in far off cities or countries but here in Cornwall too.

If pupils are aware of what is going on around them they are more likely to consider a career in technology a possibility.

"As a careers advisor I find it increasingly challenging to bring the Software industry to life, however with amazing employers like you that enable students to see and experience it for themselves, this really does make a difference in bridging the skills gap" - from Mounts Bay School.

If they also have the opportunities to try it out they may take the interest further.

If they have enough interactions with the industry they are more likely to study to a higher level and become our employees in the future.

By opening the eyes of the pupils, bringing the knowledge to the teachers and engaging with parents we can support those who previously could find no outlet for their aspirations.

What’s Our Experience.

Software Cornwall has run 7 Mission to Mars Work Experience weeks plus 3 Mission to Mars Bytesize 2 day introductory missions. These provided a more real life encounter with the industry and have reached out to over 220 students over the age of 14. 

There were also the monthly Saturday Tech Jams that engaged with a little over 300 pupils in just the last year of all ages from primary schools to University. 

13,752 students were provided with 72 careers assemblies.

We have attended 45 careers fairs and also other career engagements in the last year.

Run 7 workshop days for 268 more students. Plus we have visited 3 Scout groups and one Girl Guides to run workshops for them.

Software Cornwall also assisted 13 Cornwall Library staff in their familiarisation with the BBC Microbit before they released it in the libraries on a rental scheme. Computing At Schools also asked us to run workshops for teachers at the South West conferences held in Plymouth every September.

Education Outreach - The Story

Prior to the Mission to Mars work experience being set up four years ago it was extremely difficult to find talented new staff for the software companies in Cornwall. The local industry was very low key, students and school career advisers or interested individuals were unaware of it. There was no where for those who were interested in software development to get any relevant experience. 

Penwith students collaborating on their Mission to Mars code.

Penwith College students putting the final touches to there code during a Team Mission to Mars day. Pitting their skills against developers from Bluefruit Software, Packetship and Tempest Photography. No prizes for guessing who won!

The quality of applications for jobs, if there were any applicants, were often not of a high enough calibre. The Mission to Mars was our first development into providing a way of locating those with an interest. It gave students a place to experience software development from professionals and for the companies to come and meet them. It very quickly started to provide some new young talent.

"I think the model that you use for Software Cornwall of multiple businesses investing a small amount of resource to have a specialist promoting their sector should be held up as best practise for other sectors " - from Cornwall Careers Hub.

Feeling Cold in Cornwall

Back in 2015 the “Cold Spots” report was written by The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) that highlighted areas of poor engagement of companies with schools around the country.

Cornwall was highlighted as being especially cold. This report got the directors of Software Cornwall motivated to do something about it for their industry. They applied for funding through CEC and with the support of Cornwall College launched the Education Outreach program in 2017 when the funds finally became available. It was with this first funding that all the great interaction with the schools and students was enabled. Unfortunately cut backs has reduced the size of the available pot to providers which is why we are reaching out with this Crowdfunder.

What will the crowdfund provide?

This fund will support an outreach worker to attend any educational event in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It will provide the opportunity to reach even more pupils than before and also to maintain the contact with the establishments already reached. The funding will provide the staff to run the Mission to Mars and the Tech Jams plus provide funding for new and replacement equipment as it is needed.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation

£10 or more

£10 Thank you.

This will give you a nice feeling that your donation will help us engaging with students throughout Cornwall. We can continue providing free access to Tech Jams on a Saturday to all those youngsters who just want to have a go.

£10 or more

7 of 50 claimed

£10 Laptop Sticker

A lovely feeling you are supporting something worthwhile. Then you can place your limited edition sticker on your laptop lid and show everyone how cool you are!

£20 or more

£20 Even more thanks.

Receive a thank you from the team and the great feeling that your pledge will help us reach out to more youngsters in Cornwall. Attending a Careers Fair in a school means that we can attract more youngsters to the industry and speak to parents as well.

£20 or more

11 of 50 claimed

£20 Laptop Sticker

You are going to feel so great supporting such a worthy cause. To mark the occasion you can place the sticker on your laptop lid and show it off every time you use it.

£50 or more

2 of 20 claimed

£50 A Desktop Screen Thank You

A really fabulous feeling that you are doing something great by making a pledge. And you'll have your company logo or name as a thank you on a Pi-Top computer desktop screen we use in schools and Tech Jams for a year.

£100 or more

£100 Sponsor a school for an assembly.

You are amazing! A career assembly reaches out to a large group of students about the opportunities available to them. It opens their eyes to an industry that most have never heard about. Select the school that you are going to sponsor for an assembly.

£250 or more

2 of 5 claimed

£250 Classroom Workshop & Logo on Banner

Enabling a class of students to have hands on practice is the best way for them to really experience a career option. Especially if it is on a Mission to Mars Rover. This reward will get a class size group a half day session from us in school. Also your name/logo will appear on the pullup banner we take around to all the school events. Select the school you would like to receive the session.

£250 or more

£250 Sponsor a classroom workshop.

Enabling a class of students to have hands on practice is the best way for them to really experience a career option. Especially if it is on a Mission to Mars Rover. This reward will get a class size group a half day session from us in school. Select the school you would like to receive the session.

£500 or more

2 of 20 claimed

£500 Sponsor a school.

The more interactions pupils have with employers the better the chances are that they will further their education and become engaged with thinking about career choices. Sponsor a school and we will provide a series of visits to engage with the school and pupils. We shall also present them with a certificate to display that you are their sponsor for us. Your name/logo will also appear on the presentation materials too.

£1,500 or more

1 of 6 claimed

£1500 Sponsor a Mission to Mars Rover

Work Experience is the ultimate interaction between pupils and employers. It provides direct experience of the work, enhances soft skills, teamwork and problem solving. Students on our Missions also engage, sometimes for the first time, with others with similar interests. By sponsoring a Mission to Mars you will enable our stars of the future to shine. One Mission will have your name/logo on a rover for all to see as it explores the terrain.

£5,000 or more

2 of 3 claimed

£5000 Sponsor a Mission to Mars Work Experience

There are not many people who say they have added their name to a Mission to Mars. But with this reward you can do just that. The Missions are our main educational event. They bring students from all over Cornwall together to collaborate on getting the rovers to complete the Missions. Be the name that drives the Mission forward for up to 30 youngsters.

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