Politically Speaking in the Wakefield Express

It’s fair to say that when I walked into a ‘Code Club’ at Lofthouse Gate primary school with head, Mrs Savage, we were both a bit apprehensive. For most of us, ‘coding’ is a mysterious term that conjures up images of a lonely figure hunched over a big computer.

Not so! At Lofthouse Primary, year 5 and 6 pupils crowded round electronic workpads, eagerly ‘coding’ – making objects dance, sing and spin across the screen. They weren’t working in isolation. Instead they were all were talking to each other, sharing tips on how to do new tricks. Talking and sharing ideas is a big part of a Code Club.

Walk around any school in our district, as I do regularly, and you can’t help but be amazed at how much technology is now integrated into classrooms. There are laptops and tablets, white boards and even high-tech entrance systems. And it’s now very much part of a teacher’s job to keep up with changing technology, especially when it can improve children’s learning.

But some areas of new technology are pretty specialised. ‘Code Club’ is an organisation supported by the internet giant Google, that seems to be a great way to fill the gap. Clubs are run by parents or a local volunteer as an after school club. Teachers can get involved, but don’t need to run the clubs themselves. It’s a great way to get the school integrated into the local business community and to get kids learning new and useful skills too.

And with jobs in this sector on the increase, for some youngsters in our area, a Code Club could be just the start. So let’s make sure these opportunities are available not just to a few but to all our children.

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Imagine going about everyday life but unable to see. Getting to the shop for a loaf of bread suddenly becomes really difficult. Add physical obstacles along the way, such as lampposts, wheelie bins or parked cars and a simple task becomes both a real challenge and potentially dangerous.

I’ve been backing the Guide Dogs for the Blind’s “Streets Ahead” campaign highlighting the difficulties faced by blind and partially sighted people when they’re out and about. Cllr Peter Box and I both took part in a blindfolded walk around Outwood with local residents, Ian and Joyce, who both have to navigate our area on a regular basis.

It’s incredibly disorientating to lose one of your senses. My blindfolded walk totally changed my perception of hazards on the street. Parking on pavements, leaving wheelie bins on the footpath or pushing past people all make a guide dogs job harder. They might seem like really small things. But we can all make more of an effort to make the job of local guide dogs easier. Find out more about the Streets Ahead campaign at www.guidedogs.org.uk.

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Posted June 6th, 2014 by admin

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