Micro:bit throughout history: Paving the way for a digital future

18th September 2023

The start of the UK school year in September 2023 marks the exciting launch of the micro:bit next gen campaign, which will see almost 700,000 devices rolled out to UK primary schools to spark children’s imagination and help them develop vital digital skills. At Nominet, we’re delighted to be supporting this initiative in close partnership with BBC Education and the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

While today marks an exciting development in preparing young people for the technology roles of the future, Nominet and the micro:bit initiative have a longstanding history of championing digital skills and coding for young people.

Let’s recap: What is a micro:bit?

With coding skills in ever-growing demand, the impact of introducing children to technology in their early years can’t be understated. In fact, it’s anticipated that 65% of today’s primary school children will end up in roles that don’t exist yet.

The micro:bit is a simple kit computer that helps teach children how software and hardware interact – paving the way for the next generation of technologists. How’s that for future-proofing?

children using micro:bit devices in school with micro:bit classroom

Nominet and the micro:bit: A timeline

October 2016 – Nominet partners with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation

As proud founding partners, we began lending our skills to the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, helping to train future coders and provide them with the tools and support they need to thrive.

Working in close collaboration with the BBC, ARM, Samsung, Microsoft, and the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Foundation built on the success of the BBC’s first micro:bit initiative, where one million UK children received mini computers to spark their imagination.

March 2020 – Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet launch micro:bit classroom

We provided funding to the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, enabling them to release a free educational platform empowering teachers to deliver creative digital projects and computing lessons.

The platform democratises access to technology and computing education and includes micro:bit classroom – a unique tool that makes managing and reviewing pupils’ code quick and easy. The platform brings foundational computing concepts to the classroom, allowing children to experiment with real world use cases.

September 2021 – Nominet and the Micro:bit Educational Foundation launch research programme

At Nominet, we collaborated with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation to launch a brand new research programme. The in-depth research study examines the opportunities, challenges, and impact of using the micro:bit as a teaching aid in UK primary schools – building on previous findings in secondary education.

We also committed further funding to help the Micro:bit Educational Foundation equip a further two thousand primary schools with micro:bit devices to support the new research programme. Thanks to the research, the Foundation is now better equipped to expand young people’s access to technology and the opportunities that it creates from an earlier age.

March 2022 – Nominet donates a further 57,000 micro:bits to UK primary schools

Nominet and the Scottish Government partnered with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation to provide a further 57,000 devices to primary schools – focusing on the areas most in need. Children in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland all benefitted from the scheme.

The extended roll-out further boosts digital skills from primary age onwards, helping teachers to make coding more exciting and accessible.

May 2023 – BBC Education, Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet commit free micro:bits to every UK primary school

In another major boost to primary education, specifically computing and digital skills, Nominet committed funding for almost 700,000 micro:bit devices for distribution across UK primary schools. Our support enables 30 free devices per school in addition to free educational resources and teacher training.

Following the research programme announced in 2021, this phase is focused on increasing teacher knowledge and confidence, empowering educators with devices, lesson plans and inspiration to boost children’s learning.

September 2023 – Nominet, BBC and the Micro:bit Educational Foundation launch next gen campaign

The micro:bit next gen campaign announced in May rolls out just in time for the start of the new school year, inspiring young people to enjoy exploring the possibilities of technology and unleash their inner creativity.

“We’re excited to welcome the next generation of teachers and pupils to the power of the micro:bit. Together with the exciting CBBC brands and support from Nominet, our new training and projects will provide a great introduction to a world of digital opportunities. The project couldn’t happen without the support of a wide range of industry and education partners.”

Gareth Stockdale, CEO, Micro:bit Educational Foundation

children in playground smiling holding micro:bit devices

The rest is history

Over six million devices are now being used globally, with an estimated 39 million young people from over 60 countries benefitting from the micro:bit initiative so far. At Nominet, we’re proud to look back on what we’ve achieved in collaboration with our partners, helping to secure a brighter future for the next generation.

More good news: there’s still time to get involved. If you haven’t yet registered for the micro:bit initiative in your primary school, you can do so by visiting bbc.co.uk/teach/microbit. Registrations will remain open until 18th December 2023.