On Monday 19 June, we at Capita welcomed a very different kind of visitor to our offices in Wiltshire, as a mini bus full of 9 and 10 year old pupils from All Saints Primary School and Llandough Primary School in South Wales arrived for a day of workshops entitled ‘Investing in the next generation of digital leaders’.
We hosted the event as part of Digital Leaders Week, a nationwide initiative to celebrate, share and inspire the leadership of digital transformation. The day was designed to give the children an interactive insight into all things digital – exploring what digital is and means to them, how new ideas are developed, what kind of technologies power their local police, council and school services, and what kind of careers might be open to them in digital in the future.
Each session was hosted by a different Capita team, bringing the business together to share in one common theme: digital technology and the impact it can help achieve.
“The children had a fantastic day. Digital technology is something that we strive to deliver in new and innovative ways at school. The children were truly inspired by meeting the designers, developers and staff at Capita and we feel this will help us in the making of tomorrow’s digital leaders!” Mark Ellis, Head Teacher, Llandough Primary School
Kicking off the day was myself and Capita’s Advantage Digital team, we introduced the important question of ‘what is digital?’ Tablets fittingly at the ready, the pupils mind mapped all the digital technologies they use in their daily lives, highlighting the extent to which digital surrounds everything we do.
This helped inform a lively discussion about how the many services their councils offer – from leisure centres, looking after roads, hosting events, collecting recycling, offering jobs and much more – could be delivered and improved digitally. Recognising that typical tasks like requesting a service, paying for something or asking a query are much more quickly achieved via a digital process, the pupils could then try this technology out for themselves, asking Alexa (who supported the day very effectively from the front of the room) when their next school holiday is, or when their rubbish should be put out, to see an example of Advantage Digital in action, and how it can deliver information individuals need in innovative and user-friendly ways.
Next up was Steve, a designer representing Orange Bus, Capita’s digital design agency. Steve quickly identified every pupil in the room as a designer, encouraging a multitude of innovative ideas to demonstrate the importance of seeing design as problem solving – creating things that not only appeal to users, but most importantly, deliver on the job to be done.
New and hair-raising ways to make toast, travel to school, and understand household energy consumption were explored to demonstrate Design Thinking. Orange Bus’ approach was played out via several interactive exercises, identifying to any budding designers in the room the importance of looking for problems that need solving, listening and learning, and generating lots of ideas to deliver the best possible solution.
After lunch, Michael from Secure Solutions and Services took the pupils through the technology powering their local police and ambulance services in South Wales. In real-time this technology demonstrated what happens in the back office when an emergency call is placed, how information is captured or pre-populated from digital sources such as GPS or a mobile phone’s camera function, identifying officers on a map to be selected and deployed, and tracking their progress as they headed to the incident.
This inspired plenty of food for thought and the pupils were quick to ask questions about the technology in action – how many calls can be taken at any one time, how many incidents are managed each day by the software, what if a call needs both a fire and police response… the answers to which all demonstrated the software’s intelligence and complexity in delivering such crucial services when they’re needed most.
Next, Helen from Capita SIMS explored what it means to be a product developer, looking at how new ideas are developed and the process they go through before being launched. Looking at digital technologies SIMS develop for schools just like theirs, the pupils were shown pioneering solutions to make pupils, teachers and students’ lives easier, such as digital registers where pupils ‘check in’ by selecting a photo of themselves on screen.
The children then busily discussed and identified the apps and websites they use day to day, both in and out of school, before enjoying designing their own student app, looking at what information, functionality and services it could offer them to make it useful, exciting and popular for them and their friends.
Finally, Mim and Jessica from Capita One chatted through the technologies One offers Local Authorities, helping digitise tasks like free school meals applications, transport to school and applying for school places while also supporting children who need it most. The group were quick to discuss how the coding they do at school might be similar to the coding involved in building this kind of software, and how this experience might help prepare them for digital jobs in the future.
With plenty of hands up and answers at the ready, the pupils then took part in several activities – including identifying the emotions they associated with being asked for their input and ideas, and when they felt listened to, versus when their views are ignored, demonstrating the importance of people like Mim and Jessica in designing solutions and services based on what the end users – whether children or parents – may need or want most from the technology and from the services being delivered to them.
With Capita goodie bags in hand, the group then began their journey back to school, full of ideas and inspiration about all the digital technologies Capita offers, how they impact their lives and how they are designed and developed.
Aled Williams, Head Teacher, All Saints Primary School, said:“We would like to thank everyone for an incredible day. Each of the workshops challenged the children’s creativity and inspired them to think about the vital role technology plays every day at home, in school and in the workplace. The children can now CAPITA-lise on the experiences they had, which will help them develop skills so they can continue to be ambitious, capable and ready to learn throughout their lives and be valuable citizens of Wales and the world.”