Child taking part in Barclays’ Code Playground programme


Taking Code Playground ‘live’ for families in self-isolation

24 April 2020

Barclays’ Code Playground is reaching out to parents across the UK who are juggling work and childcare responsibilities while self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic – with the support of Barclays Football Ambassador Ian Wright. Digital Eagle and Head of Code Playground Kevin Garner shares how his team has stepped up its efforts to deliver educational content every weekday to keep families engaged and entertained – and why organisations like Barclays have a responsibility to help “keep Britain going” at times like this.

It has never been a busier time at Code Playground – an educational programme run by Barclays Digital Eagles that introduces children to the basics of coding.

Since its launch in 2013, Digital Eagles has grown from a team of 18 to more than 14,000 colleagues today – and has been working tirelessly to stay true to its mission to bridge the digital skills gap in the UK.

To help families across the UK who are in self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic – and support parents who are working and looking after their children – Barclays has expanded Code Playground Live, a series of online coding sessions that are available on YouTube. The programme is designed specifically for primary age pupils, incorporating games and features that make learning fun. 

“By taking Code Playground ‘live’, we are able to impact a much wider audience and share that support with more communities. It gives families a chance to do something together,” says Kevin Garner, Barclays Digital Eagle and Head of Code Playground.

“It’s definitely been a struggle behind the scenes keeping up with the demand for content,” he says, “but we are extremely proud to be able to support people in the current situation.” He’s particularly excited that Barclays Football Ambassador Ian Wright is supporting, hosting a special football-themed coding session on Monday 27 April.

Meeting new demands

For parents faced with both work and childcare responsibilities, Kevin says, Code Playground Live is an “amazing resource” and the team has seen a “fabulous response” to their online videos since the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK, with five times as many views compared to pre-lockdown figures.

“There's lots of great coding and programming lessons to help people with those skills, but it's also a lot of fun,” explains Kevin. “So if you just want to go on and have a bit of a play around with some of the games on there, or you're just trying to do something together as a family, then Code Playground Live is a great activity."


Barclays Head of Code Playground Kevin Garner smiling in a school classroom

Organisations like Barclays have been around for so long that they have become a staple part of the UK economy. We absolutely must step up in times like this. We have a huge responsibility to be out in the community and to keep Britain going

Kevin Garner

Barclays Digital Eagle and Head of Code Playground

Keeping Britain going

Code Playground Live is one of many ways the bank is supporting its customers and wider community across financial and non-financial matters.

“Organisations like Barclays have been around for so long that they have become a staple part of the UK economy,” Kevin says. “We absolutely must step up in times like this. We have a huge responsibility to be out in the community and to keep Britain going.”

Expanding Code Playground Live has allowed the Digital Eagles to make tangible differences, from continuing coding education and supporting working parents, to bringing families closer together. “It’s a real family affair,” according to Kevin, whose own siblings and neighbours use the resource.

While the programme has been successful so far, Kevin acknowledges that there will be new challenges to consider the longer the crisis goes on. Nevertheless, he is confident that his team – and the whole of Barclays – will continue to overcome them.

“We will rise to those challenges in order to put that content out and provide the support we can.”

Many users have been sharing their projects on social media, while others have praised it for piquing their children’s interest in coding.

Responding to this increase in demand, Barclays Digital Eagles are hard at work expanding their content output. Where they previously produced one online class every quarter, they are now producing content every weekday.

This can mean compressing three months’ work into a single afternoon. “We have people editing videos constantly, we have people writing scripts, we have people coming up with ideas and making games. It’s definitely busy, but also very fun.”

Recognising his team’s “fantastic” efforts, Kevin says: “It’s a privilege to be able to put out content that people are liking and using on a daily basis. To be even making a small difference at a time like this is really important to us.”

The football themed Code Playground session featuring Barclays Football Ambassador Ian Wright will go live on the Barclays UK YouTube channel on Monday 27 April at 10am.