Raising Digital Engagement, a digital pilot working with Key Stage 3 pupils across Devon and Somerset

The talent pipeline for digital specialists is neither big enough nor diverse enough. Too few young people are choosing computing studies and digital careers. Unless we can grow the number of students pursuing a digital career or taking computer science at GCSE and A level we won’t close the UK’s digital skills gap. Low levels of digital skills contribute to lower levels of productivity and limits opportunities for social mobility and technological advancement, it affects our people and our economy.

In 2018 the number of students taking Geography or History at GCSE was roughly 4 times the figure of those choosing Computer Science GCSE.

[Source: ONS]

Overall the number of students in the UK taking computing GCSEs in the UK in 2021 increased, the number of girls taking the subject saw a year-on-year drop.

[Source: ComputerWeekly]

The Raising Digital Engagement project was designed to tackle some of these issues by bringing together regional and national partners to test what type of activities could create a catalyst spark in how young people, parents, carers, and teachers perceive digital skills. The ultimate aim was to encourage more young people to pursue digital subjects and use digital in their learning across all subjects not just in IT.

The programme was funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and delivered by the Heart of the South West LEP’s Digital Skills Partnership and Careers Hub through the talented Real Ideas Organisation. We set out to test and measure what type of digital encounters are most effective in supporting careers education to help schools demonstrate the relevance of digital skills, the career opportunities in digital roles, and the routes into them.

Delivery of the pilot was hampered by the impact of Covid but the pilot was adapted and between April and July 2021 with the following schools:-

  • Plymouth:  ACE,  All Saints Academy Plymouth
  • Devon: Cullompton Community College, Great Torrington School, Holsworthy Community College, Isca Academy
  • Somerset: Huish Episcopi Academy

Rasing Digital Engagement Resources

A series of monthly sector insights (including work-place tours, talks, activities and challenges) were designed to improve access to and interest in the range of digital subjects. Each sector insight comprised of:-

  • Video Assets
    • Insight mini ‘infomercial’
    • Workplace Tour
    • Employee profile
  • Activities and challenges to be completed
  • A live employer Q&A

We welcome other Schools to review and use the resources created:-

Dazzling Designers – creative design

Super Software – coding

Amazing Makers – using tech to make

Code Crackers – cyber security

Digital Natives digital skills across a broad spectrum of careers

Future Tech – engineering new tech


The team have released an evaluation of the pilot which sets out an evidence-based model that could be rolled out to other schools, encouraging many more students to pursue computing studies and digital careers.

The evaluation included a benchmarking survey completed by staff, students and parents at the start of the pilot to gauge the level of digital engagement, followed by summary surveys  with staff, students and parents at the conclusion of the pilot.

Kids have been engaged and have asked lots of questions about careers and not knowing
about different jobs – the videos have opened their eyes. The diversity of skills needed in
different jobs and roles – a lot more questions asked – more than usual from younger year
– STEM Coordinator


This project was funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, & Sport, with thanks to the following delivery partners: