Allstate Northern Ireland is part of the Time to Compute programme—a scheme developed by Business in the Community in partnership with local Education and Library Boards to help improve computing skills in local primary schools. ANI gives their support to volunteers going out into local primary schools to assist the pupils with IT tasks, providing half the time volunteered back to the employee. Currently 12 Allstate NI employees are volunteering in various local schools (Our Lady's Primary School, St Therese of Lisieux Primary School, Nettlefield Primary School & St Matthew's Primary School).
Malcolm Turner and Marbeth Scott (occasionally joined by Nagendiran Vilvanathan) have been volunteering for 3 years in St. Matthew's Primary School in Belfast. For 1 hour a week they teach 8-10 year olds basic IT skills on a 1-1 basis, using approved educational software, occasionally also assisting with on-going classroom projects.
Marbeth had the following to say about her time at St. Matthews,
"It is such a rewarding project. The teachers and pupils make us feel most welcome. At times they just want us to stay for longer. We laugh with them, discuss many topics and get to know the pupils".
Malcolm followed up by saying,
"St. Matthew's is a brilliant school where we are welcomed and feel that we can make a difference for the pupils with our skills, and it's very rewarding seeing the pupils' reactions when they've achieved something new."
This year the team has been working with the children towards achieving an ICT accreditation from the local education authority, CCEA. To achieve this accreditation the school were to design a "Victorian Newsletter" using Microsoft Publisher—with every class member producing their own newsletter.
Following on from this, pupils engaged with 'Scratch', a very user-friendly but powerful scripting language that uses Turtle graphics and also Sprites. Using this, the team worked through the steps of creating a web page with each of the children, and also did a more advanced project with two of the children selected by the class teacher. The topic was chosen to be "Healthy Eating" by the children and teacher again to tie in with work being done in class.
Their project is uploaded to the Scratch website at http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/MalcolmANI/3301050—just click the green flag.
Tanya Mc Crory (Primary 7 teacher) spoke highly of the initiative,
"Being involved with Time to Compute has provided the children in our school with an ideal platform to develop a wide range of ICT skills. I have seen at first-hand how the children have become more proficient in the use of ICT, in real and meaningful contexts. They have enjoyed finding out about new software and can see the great potential of ICT in supporting their learning".
Time to compute is one of the many Corporate Social Responsibility efforts that Allstate NI are passionate about. If you are interested in taking part in Time to Compute next year please get in contact with Sonya Kerr firstname.lastname@example.org.