IBM UK Summer School for Computing Subject Leaders

Good for society
  • Intensive support was given to 86 primary school ‘computing subject leaders’ to deliver the computing curriculum, with 1,000 teachers indirectly benefiting.
  • To date, 30,000 primary school students from 86 primary schools across England have improved their computing skills
The Education Award, Finalist, 2016

Through a programme of Summer Schools run by computing giant IBM, 1,000 teachers have developed their computing skills, enabling them to improve the teaching of the new computing curriculum for 30,000 primary school pupils. The project aims to create the next generation of computing professionals.

Good for business


In 2014 the Government introduced a new computing curriculum for all children aged 5-16 in England. This was a much needed move from a purely information technology-based curriculum to more of a focus on computer science/digital literacy.  

The IBM Summer School for Computing Subject Leaders is an immersive, intensive and practical programme for primary school teachers to enable them to effectively teach the new computing curriculum. 

The project is designed to cascade down through primary schools, with computing subject leaders being shown effective ways to support their colleagues and develop imaginative and creative ways to teach computer skills.

IBM UK knew that many primary school teachers lacked access to appropriate professional development, which is necessary to teach the new computing curriculum. Recognising that the future success of the new computing curriculum depends on well-trained teachers, the tech firm launched this project.

Activities are delivered through two key initiatives: a three or four day Summer School for primary school teachers; and an annual Robo Challenge which supports both primary school teachers and year five and six students through the use of Lego robots.  

The programme is delivered by IBM professionals alongside digital education specialists from the London Connected Learning Centre and Warwickshire Educational Service.


IBM is a global company operating in over 170 countries, with 400,000+ employees. In addition to being the world's largest IT and consulting services company, with a current focus on cognitive computing analytics and Cloud services, IBM is a global leader, innovating in research and development to shape the future of society. The company works with governments, corporations, thinkers and doers to find ground-breaking solutions to real world problems. IBM’s mission is to ‘make the world work better’.

IBM invests over $200 million annually into its well-established global Corporate Citizenship programme. Many programmes focus on education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), on building capabilities of charities and community groups and delivering new insights and understanding in areas such as public health and how cities function. The programmes are all aligned with IBM’s business strategy.

Cascading skills

The IBM Summer School for Computing Subject Leaders was launched initially with London primary schools. Extremely few teachers, especially at primary school level, have studied computer science themselves, let alone received training on how to teach the computer science aspect of the curriculum effectively. Computing subject leaders within primary schools are specifically targeted so that they can in turn cascade the skills and knowledge they have acquired to their colleagues and in turn to the children they teach. As well as improving the skills and knowledge of teachers, the programmes aim to create a group of ‘Computing’ lead teachers able to support others locally, and build hubs of schools, employers and other specialists able to support the development of the computer science curriculum.

Each teacher who participates in the programme is assigned an IBM ‘teacher buddy’ whose role is to provide technical support, resources and ideas for the teacher during the following academic year as they work with their colleagues to implement the new curriculum.

What IBM's Chief Executive UK & Ireland said:

“The IBM Summer Schools for Primary School teachers and the annual Robo-Challenge have become a core part of our contribution to the education landscape, and are demonstrably valued by the target audience, teachers. This programme contributes to building the UK's skills pipeline. We believe that other employers with significant numbers of IT specialists could help grow the model we've developed and thus ensure that all young people in the UK have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively participate in the growing digital economy. In doing so they will also further develop the skills of their own employees and improve the competitiveness of their companies.” - David Stokes, Chief Executive, UK and Ireland, IBM

* The project is helping develop the skills and talent pipeline of young people, both for IBM and for IBM’s clients.

* The skills of IBM employees have developed with 82% stating that their skills had improved by supporting this programme.

  • The project has helped develop the skills and talent pipeline of young people, both for IBM and for IBM’s clients.
  • The skills of IBM UK employees have developed, with 82% stating that the programme had improved their skills.
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