The Anumana Code Academy: A grassroots campaign that needs your help

 

One of the key drivers for setting up Anumana was that it provided a platform to make a positive impact on society. I am proud to say that we have been fulfilling that goal through teaching Python to children between the ages of 14 and 16 in schools across Manchester. This has been a weekly voluntary campaign that provides opportunities to disadvantaged children within the local community and begins to address the issues with diversity in technical roles.

Whilst I am delighted with our early success, this is only the beginning of what I hope to be a meaningful and long-lasting programme of support for the wider community. It is at this juncture that we are now looking for willing partners to support this strategy and help us extend its reach and impact. If successful, not only will this create career opportunities for children, but ultimately, this will benefit the data and analytics community and future employers. We will be creating a richer, more diverse, and capable talent pool from which to hire from.

 

The Anumana Code Academy

The Academy is a continuous programme of teaching and support delivered to students in years 9 – 11 that have demonstrated an interest in coding and want to enhance their capabilities. We run weekly 1-hour classes after school hours during term time, building upon any existing Python learning delivered within the curriculum. The primary objective is to support disadvantaged children, and therefore we have a requirement that the class have at least 50% of students that fall under Pupil Premium[1]. Our secondary objective is to encourage children from underrepresented populations in the tech industry to take a more active interest in programming.

All the content for the programme has been written and brilliantly delivered by Tom Smith (Lead Decision Scientist) during this inaugural year. He has created a series of lessons that teaches children the fundamentals of learning Python in conjunction with developing their own text-based adventure game. Without the constraints of the curriculum, we can bring coding to life and provide real world examples of how concepts are used.

 

“It’s been rewarding to see students get excited by writing complex and interesting code. By setting work that’s interesting and novel, students almost don’t realise they’re pushing themselves far beyond what they previously thought to be achievable. I really hope we can maintain the level of diversity we see in our classes and inspire groups traditionally under-represented in tech to pursue careers in the field.”

 

Why is it needed?

 In data and analytics circles, it is common knowledge that the there is a shortage of diversity within the talent pool. Further, there is a material skills gap for technical hires within the UK as evidenced in this government publication from 2021 [2]. There are some fantastic initiatives that are providing opportunities to people in the active UK workforce, however there remains a sizeable gap in the market for addressing the issue at its grass roots.

The long-term aspirations of the Anumana Code Academy are:

  • To advance the technical skills and provide career opportunities for disadvantaged children
  • To encourage interest in programming from children in under-represented populations within the industry
  • To create a community and support network that connects promising children to university and workplaces

I have always been a firm believer in giving back to society and have found great satisfaction from the Code Academy so far. Having set up the business as a human centred company, this is one of the easy decisions I have been able to make by diverting substantial resource away from revenue generating activities. This is a core pillar of the business, and we will continue to look for more opportunities to support the community,

Our current cohort are a group of year 9 and 10 students at North Cestrian School in Altrincham. The composition of the class represents exactly the diversity we are looking to engage. We saw similarly diverse groups in the previous cohorts and will look to replicate in future campaigns

 

Their Head of Computing, Andrea Collins has been a big advocate of the programme and has actively encouraged her students to participate with performance-based incentives and relevant context as to how the teaching complements the curriculum.

 

“Our students have benefitted from working with Hemant and Tom this year, not just through coding, but also in relation to their resilience and growth mindset.  Even though we have covered programming with Python within our curriculum, Anumana were able to introduce concepts that hadn’t been covered in lessons so even the more competent programmers came away with new knowledge and skills every session. 

They were able to do this without leaving the less confident programmers behind, so everyone made progress on their own personal journey.  Working with Anumana has also helped me develop my own teaching some of the more complex coding skills; listening to how a professional programmer explains some of the concepts helped me better understand them and develop ways to better explain them to my students. 

In addition, having professionals in the classroom working with students from all backgrounds makes the idea of a career in programming more accessible and offered opportunities for students to ask questions about future careers and draw parallels between what they have learned in the lesson and real world applications.  Thank you Hemant and Tom! ”

 

 

The Vision

 Whilst the past 9 months have been fantastic and a real vindication of the decision to proceed with this strategy, there is plenty more that we are looking to achieve. Ultimately, we would like to create a community of support that provides opportunities for children, university students and companies alike. The vision of the Code Academy is to put together a complete programme that encompasses the following parts:

  • Simultaneous Code Academy programmes delivered throughout multiple schools in Manchester
  • Code academies delivered by volunteers currently studying in University or companies comfortable with providing their technical staff
  • Work experience placements and/or hackathon events hosted by companies, run in collaboration with university students for children that are participating in the Anumana Code Academy
  • Internship, apprenticeship and/or graduate placement opportunities created for participants of the academy (both volunteers and students)

 

We need you!

Simply put, we are too small to deliver this all by ourselves, without compromising business security. We are developing relationships with a couple of universities in Manchester and hope to cement strong partnerships there. What we are looking for are more individuals, educational institutions and companies that are willing to initially support in the following areas:

  • Provide volunteers to deliver (and help evolve) the Code Academy material in schools around Greater Manchester
  • Become willing partners to host work experience placements and/or hackathon events for Code Academy students. We will co-ordinate the teaching programmes and the work experience placements and ensure that the appropriate support is there for volunteers and businesses.
  • In addition, I would very much welcome someone with experience that would be willing to join the programme in a Non-Executive Director capacity to help bring this vision to life.

 

I am incredibly passionate and hopeful that this endeavour will only continue to grow and am excited about the possibilities the future holds. We have already met some exceptional young people, and whilst their careers are still many years ahead of them, look forward to enabling their success.

 

For those interested in supporting, please reach out directly to me at hpatel@anumana.co.uk.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read.

 

 

Have a project in mind?
Let’s talk!

Have a project in mind?
Let’s talk!

Have a project in mind?
Let’s talk!