University of Newcastle entrepreneur of the year James Rabbitt put his passion for coding into Broader Learning

Bright sparks: “Enabling kids to deeply understand and make diverse use of what they have available to them is highly valuable,” says James Rabbitt of coding. You have co-founded the start-up Broader Learning, which aims to make fun coding programs that encourage kids to learn. How old were you when you first started coding?

I first started to learn to code on and off when I was 14 – it wasn’t until I was 17 that I started to properly grasp how to use programming to solve problems of my own. I had a great teacher in years 11 and 12 who really helped me to understand it.

What does coding fundamentally teach kids?

Coding helps kids to understand how computers, phones and apps work. It also provides them with a new and unique creative medium for expressing themselves and exploring new ideas. Learning to code enables students to better interact with and express themselves in our increasingly digital world.

When and why did you start Broader Learning and how does it operate?

Broader Learning was incorporated in July 2016, we started operating commercially in early 2017. We wanted to provide a means for schools and students to access long-term quality learning programs that are delivered in-person. We work with parents, teachers and schools to bring quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) learning programs to schools in a before or after school format. We also provide staffing services, professional learning sessions and are developing some products that we hope to commercialise.

Your business plan?

To use best-in-class resources to deliver fun and deeply engaging learning programs. Our education operations provide us with a great understanding of the challenges and shortfalls of current programs and resources and inform our in-house product research and development. In the future we aim to work with schools across through both distance learning and in-person program delivery.

And your goals?

We aim to become trusted advisors for parents, teachers and education providers across . We want to continue to work closely with our customers to develop the best possible STEM educational resources and learning programs and make them available to as wide an audience as possible.

When did you get a breakthrough with BL as far as customers?

In the latter half of last year we had a teacher whose children attended one of our holiday programs approach us to run a program at the school she teaches at. I can’t imagine a better vote of confidence than a parent and passionate teacher trusting us with both their own children and students.

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