What is coding? Our definition

If you type ‘what is coding?’ into Google, you’ll find thousands of options. We know because we’ve tried it. It’s funny that with so many options, the answer is pretty much the same. Coding is the process or activity of writing computer programs…

Jam Coding has been delivering computing workshops to children for over 7 years now, and whilst that definition is correct, ours is slightly different.

Coding is having the confidence to try something different and new. 

It’s a test of resilience. 

It’s critical thinking. 

It’s the ability to process information and think like a computer… 

To notice patterns and understand what they mean.

In our digital world, coding is a door to job opportunities. 

It’s communication. It’s storytelling in a universal language.

Coding is complexity. 

It’s a workout for the mind and memory that requires determination, focus and logic.

It’s learning new skills: typing, writing, maths…

It’s finding the solution to a problem or a loop hole to get around it.

It’s a celebration of collaboration and creativity. 

Coding is fun!

To us, coding is so much more than just writing computer programs. It’s a series of skills that children will benefit from in every aspect of life. Yet, only an estimated 0.5% of the world’s population has mastered it.

At Jam Coding, we understand just how important these skills will be to employers in the future job market, and see it as our duty to instil them into children from a young age. Our workshops are designed to do just that.

Programming is like poetry – A Valentine’s Day poem by Jam Coding

Programming is like poetry;

A sequence of code,

That creates an ode,

To a world of endless possibilities.

Like poetry, it takes practice,

To master the tactics,

Of algorithms and coding with love.

It can be difficult to grasp,

With intricacies so vast,

Like abstraction, selection and bugs.

But once you do,

Your worries will be few,

As you unleash your creativity.

You’ll find excitement in design,

Writing instructions and spending time,

On fun imaginative activities. 

If you dream not of being,

In show biz but instead seeking,

To be an architect in your own right…

Then join Jam Coding,

In our mission of moulding,

The digital citizens of our time.

7 tips for parents on Safer Internet Day

Gone are the days when children used the internet for one reason and one reason only: MSN. There was nothing better than logging in after a long day at school and chatting the night away to the same pals you’d spent the entire day with… 

Except researching your display name, of course, which had to use every character on the keyboard to make the cut, and downloading a library of emoji’s you’d soon come to regret.

Today, the internet is so much more than just a bit of after school fun. Children rely on it for education. It’s a treasure chest of information and a wonderful resource for learning.

Like most great things, however, the internet does have its downsides. Now that it’s more widely used, it’s important that children understand the dangers of the internet and how to use it responsibly. On Safer Internet Day, here are our tips for parents:

  1. Firstly, have an open conversation with your children about what threats are out there. It’s important they understand the reasons for your supervision. Let them ask questions and answer them as honestly as you can.
  2. Educate children about personal data, what concludes as personal data and why it should never be shared online. The same applies to usernames, passwords and any other information that may help cyber criminals access their accounts.
  3. Make sure they understand the seriousness of cyberbullying. The type of language they use must always be respectful and well mannered. Likewise, if your child experiences bullying online, they should come to you straight away.
  4. Teach children to think before they post online. Anything they post will remain on the internet indefinitely, even if they delete it.
  5. Never share personal images online, even with friends! Help them understand that, once an image has been shared, how it’s used is out of their control.
  6. Stranger danger is just as big of a threat online as it is in real life. If they receive messages or phone calls from anyone they don’t know, they must end the conversation immediately and tell an adult.
  7. Tell them why sharing fake news and misinformation is dangerous, and why they shouldn’t believe everything they read online!

In a world that’s becoming more and more digital, the best way to protect children is to educate them on the dangers of the internet and how best to handle them. 

Jam Coding has been delivering Digital Safety and Digital Citizen workshops to primary school children and their parents since 2014. We have ongoing funding to deliver these for free in certain geographical areas. If you are interested please contact us.

Do you have any other tips for safer internet usage? Join the conversation using #SaferInternetDay 

Jam Coding: The story behind the name

If you’ve ever a chosen a name, you’ll understand just how hard it is to settle on the right one.

That was the case for Roger, our director, when he named his camper van Viv. It was also the case when he put the name of his sourdough starter in the hands of his Instagram followers. 

There were plenty of suggestions: Clint Yeastwood, Wheatney Houston and a suspicious amount of Carole Baskin’s… but after much deliberation, he settled on Marilyn Mondough.

Unlike Marilyn and Viv, the inspiration behind Jam Coding came quite easily. Despite Roger’s love for food, it had nothing to do with everyone’s favourite fruity conserve. It was actually named after his uncle, Jim “Jam” Mason.

“Uncle Jim was a big influence in my life at a time when I didn’t know what to do. He taught me about the world of business and investing in people.”

A prominent Lancashire businessman and political figure, Jim left behind an incredible legacy of achievement when he passed away in 2009.

Early life & notable achievements 

At just 14, Jim left Bangor Street School, now a community centre, to work as a photographer for a newspaper. He then joined the RAF and trained as a pilot before flying Lancaster in Bomber Command during the Second World War.

Jim had a strong sense of social responsibility. Both he and his wife Frances were members of the Young Socialists and played an instrumental part in the selection of Barbara Castle as Blackburn’s MP.

An active member of the Labour Party since 1939, he served as leader of the Labour group on Lancashire County Council and chairman of the North West Labour Party. He was also Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire County Palatine.

In 1982, Jim co-founded Lancashire Enterprises Ltd which was responsible for major training, regeneration and employment projects. It is said to have saved thousands of jobs for Lancashire and was a model for the country.

Fortunately, his work didn’t go unnoticed. In 1999, he was awarded a CBE for his services and the following year, he was named as one of the North West’s Businessmen of the Millennium!

Why Jam Coding?

Jim was an important figure in Roger’s life and a huge inspiration behind both Jam Coding’s name and ethos. 

It’s predicted that, in 10 years time, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills.

Like Jim, we want to give back the community we love and the nation as a whole by investing in young people with a computing education that will one day be essential.

Plus, we think it’s a pretty cool name!

Surfing the Flow of 2021

So 2020. That was a strange one! Jam Coding entered the new year with the same goals as the last. To reach as many children as possible and deliver vital life skills to the next generation of digital citizens. 

We have adapted and extended our services to meet an ever-growing market and need. Our virtual classroom initiative, which we launched last spring, remains as popular going into 2021. This service includes laptop hire, a virtual code coach and various cross-curricular lessons and activities that children can complete from home. 

Even though schools are closed for most pupils, children of key workers are still in attendance and teachers are working hard to educate both those in the classroom and those at home. 

Our code coaches are working in more schools to help with the delivery of the computing curriculum and allow teachers the time to catch-up pupils that may be behind from Lockdown 1.0 and 2.0. All whilst they deliver the rest of the curriculum. Teachers are heroes.

The continued closure of schools across the country has only highlighted the importance of technology and the need for services like ours. That’s why, just weeks into the new year, we launched our very first Online Coding Club.

The club will be delivered in weekly group sessions that cater for all year groups and abilities. Led by a live code coach, children aged 4 to 11 can join in via Zoom and learn to build their own computer game and complete other coding challenges.

All our clubs are educational, interactive and fun and the online sessions will be no different. 

The pandemic has presented challenge after challenge, but we’re proud to be riding the tides, surfing the flow and finding new and innovative ways to do more of what we do. Where there’s a WiFi connection, there’s a way! In fact, scrap that, we don’t even need a Wi-Fi connection sometimes. 

Our achievements in 2020 and plans for the future

Another year has come to a close and, despite the challenges, Jam Coding is delighted to be ending it on a high. This year has proven that with every challenge comes the opportunity to innovate and grow. 

In March, the closure of schools and other lockdown restrictions inspired us to launch Jam Academy, a virtual classroom initiative that would allow children to continue their education whilst schools were closed. 

We did this by delivering and loaning laptops, fully equipped with a range of cross-curricular workshops. Each workshop contained tasks, challenges and lessons for children to complete then submit back to the group. Our code coaches even recorded detailed explanatory videos to ensure the children were fully engaged with the programme. 

Having supported the learning of 62 children across the county, the initiative was a huge success. One parent commented, “The Jam Coding workshops, and the new service Jam Academy is excellent. Our 10-year-old daughter is absolutely loving the content and using the technology to do some of her homework whilst home-schooling.” 

By the time September came round, we were back at school, supporting teachers in the delivery of PPA and CPD, as well as general cover. We even conducted some lessons via Zoom (where schools were not permitted to welcome visitors) so that entire classes could take part and benefit.  

Jam Coding is based in Lancashire, but we believe that all children should have access to our digital / life skills workshops. This year we were delighted to welcome 5 new franchise partners on board who will help us deliver computing education to children across the nation! 

To top of it off, we recently became finalists in the QFA’s Virtual Franchising Awards which celebrates innovation, achievement, and excellence within the franchising sector. The winners will be revealed on 29th January 2021 – keep your eyes peeled! 

What’s next for Jam Coding? 

Another year has passed but our vision remains clear. We want to reach as many children as possible and deliver life skills to the next generation of digital citizens.  

Jam Coding has an exciting year ahead with plans to further grow our franchise network and deliver workshops to new schools who have booked in with us for 2021! 

We will also be releasing some new fun and engaging extracurricular workshops to grow the digital knowledge of the children we teach. 

50 mile-ultra trail run for local charity

By Roger Grogan. Director of Jam Coding.

What do you do when you have a business that works in Primary Schools and Primary Schools are essentially shut?

It wasn’t a question that I was expecting to ask myself in 2020 but it was a situation that happened, and has affected us all. Obviously, during Lockdown, it has been a great opportunity to develop some new workshops and plans for the future of the business. It has also provided a further opportunity….

I have always been passionate about the local area and have networked with businesses in the Ribble Valley and across Lancashire for some time. As a part of this, I was introduced to the brilliant Lancashire Women’s charity. This charity has 3 centres across the region and support people with mental health, domestic abuse and financial support amongst other important areas. As we all know these services have been needed in Lockdown more than ever before. The rise in Domestic Abuse and Mental Health over the past 3 months has sadly been unprecedented. The tragic thing is the charity has suffered a serious downturn in sponsorship and fundraising due to the pandemic.

Running has always been important to me for both physical and mental well-being. During lockdown I found myself doing more and more miles to maintain this balance. As ‘Lockdown Lite’ was introduced I found myself running with friends. We had an idea. To run a 50-mile Ultra Marathon to help the Women’s Centre.

Our aim is simple; to ask for donations and raise as much money as we can. None of us has ever run this kind of distance before. It is going to be a real test but we are adamant we are going to help this brilliant local charity. If you can donate it would be much appreciated. If you cannot then please share our cause so we can reach as many people as possible.

Please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lancswomenultra if you are able to sponsor.

Thank you for reading. The Jam Coding team and I look forward to seeing you all in a school or classroom soon!

Read more about the adventure in our Lancashire Evening Post write-up here.

Jam Coding’s Guide to Instagram

Although you have to be thirteen to have an Instagram account, we are that this is not the case and that many primary aged children are in fact on Instagram.

Instagram has a reputation for having a strong influencer culture who flood Instagram with filtered selfies and food-pics. Unfortunately, this “doctored” representation of reality is having serious consequence to the mental health of some impressionable youngsters.

Nevertheless, children are going to use Instagram so it is important that they use it in a safe way!

Download our ‘Guide to Instagram’ to learn about Instagram and help your child understand how to use the platform responsibly.

Used safely, Instagram is an excellent creative outlet for a child to showcase their passions. This is particularly true if they have an interest in photography, as Instagram is most notably a visual platform.

Social media can be a great thing. A budding artist can post their creations. The next Mary Berry or Jamie Oliver can post their bakes and recipes!

So download our guide and talk with your child about they can get the most out of Instagram!

G-Suite for Education. Apply for funded support.

G-Suite for Education. Apply for funded support.

Through our connection with Bett, we recently learned about a brilliant opportunity available to schools who do not currently have a digital education platform.

Schools can now apply for Education-funded support to get set up on one of two free-to-use digital education platforms: G Suite for Education and Office 365 Education.

Why G Suite for Education?

Google and Microsoft can each help you to create a virtual school that mimics real-life schooling as closely as possible. G Suite for Education contains a free set of productivity tools for classroom collaboration. Accessible from any device, it is used by over 120m+ users worldwide and enables teachers and students to continue teaching and learning remotely.

No matter which platform you choose, you won’t have to compromise on your pupils’ education or sense of community. You’ll be able to live-stream assemblies, upload video lessons, set work and provide feedback so pupils can continue learning. Learn more.

Further to the virtual opportunity with G-Suite; It is also excellent for use in the classroom allowing instant feedback opportunities, learner assessment and progress and easy classroom management of curriculum subjects. G-Suite is something we have used in some of our CPD and PPA schools first hand.

How do I get G Suite for Education for my school? Learn about the set-up process here.

To apply for funding, visit the digital education platform hub over at The Key Support to get started. 

Jam Coding’s Guide to TikTok

It’s the latest social media trend to have youngsters fixated but in spite of a rapid rise in popularity there are still many, mostly parents and older people, who aren’t quite sure what TikTok is.

Download our ‘Guide to TikTok’ to learn about TikTok and help your child understand how to use the platform responsibly.

Used safely TikTok can be a fun and creative platform that children can enjoy, so download our guide and talk with your child about they can get the most out of TikTok!