The Office for National Statistics is teaming up with the BBC to improve the data skills of primary school children across the UK.

The BBC’s ‘micro:bit – the next gen’ campaign was launched this month and will see the ONS give primary school pupils the chance to get involved in a large-scale playground survey from May 2024, which will look at everything from its size, the biodiversity it supports, and how pupils spend their playtimes. For a lot of children this will be their first taste of working with data.

Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician, ONS, says:

"Data is central to today’s world and the lifeblood of the ONS. It’s vital that our children are educated about the essential role it plays in modern society, so I’m very happy to support BBC micro:bit – the next gen.

“It will give them the opportunity for some great early experience in data collection and analysis. Hopefully it will inspire them to be the next generation of data scientists and, who knows, maybe even a National Statistician of the future."

As part of this project, the ONS’s Data Science Campus will be working with the BBC and the Micro:bit Educational Foundation to develop a programme of pioneering lessons and activities around the playground survey that will introduce children as young as seven to the fascinating world of machine learning and digital data.

Mary Gregory, Deputy Director at ONS’s Data Science Campus, said:

“Machine learning is unlocking data’s potential, and make no mistake, this skill will continue to grow in demand.

“This project gives young girls and boys the chance to apply these cutting-edge techniques to data which is meaningful to them, readying them for the opportunities a data-driven world will create.”

Data will be collected using micro:bit kits. To get involved primary schools can register to claim their free micro:bits. Registration is open until 18 December 2023: