Great Western studios, 65 Alfred road, london w2 5EU

Mon-Fri, 9.30am-6pm

The blue{shift} Story

by Heather Lyons, Founder and Director

In 2013, I was approached by some mums who were keen for their children to learn to code. I had been teaching computer-based design at university level in London and had children of my own. I was also passionate about empowering children to create with code as opposed to simply consuming technology through yet another device. 

Our first term started with eight children in my garden! Those eight children all re-enrolled and we started running after-school clubs at a nearby girls’ school. We were soon teaching over 300 children per week at 10 schools in London and running camps every holiday and half-term and have continued to grow, extending our work to the state sector and collaborating with community trusts.  

Preparing children for a future unwritten

I trained as an architect, but had always worked in technology as a user experience (UX) designer. When I was in school, there was no such thing as a UX designer. One statistic we like to quote is that 60% of the careers in 20 years don’t exist yet. I’ve now worked in a number of careers (UX design and a coding education company owner) that didn’t exist when I was in school! 

After I finished my architectural studies, I moved to New York to work in technology and taught myself the basics of web development. It was exciting to start to see many new, very creative and visual applications of computer programming at the time. Coding had become exciting, visual and most of all relevant; it was not the dry Pascal I was exposed to in secondary school. I was hooked! 

A big part of our ethos is to get children to use technology and computer programming as a vehicle for creativity and self-expression. We want children to have a sense of ownership over the things they make and do with computing. We want to empower children to become the creators of tomorrow and prepare them to be resilient and adaptable when it comes to the ever-changing world of tech.

Why I’m passionate

There is not a single career from farming to medicine that will not be touched by computing in the world of the future. The ability to understand how computers work and make them work for oneself will be critical not only to success in work but will be key to being an informed citizen who understands the fabric of the world around us. We want technology to be an enabler, not an opaque and complex system that disempowers people from participating actively in the world around them. 

I grew up in suburban Toronto next to a 16-lane highway (the widest in Canada!). It was impossible for me as a child to walk anywhere; I was completely dependent on a car and being driven. It was a very frustrating and disempowering experience. Through blue{shift} we want to enable all of our students to cut across the big, often overwhelming, always moving universe that is technology and become creators and innovators, not merely passengers.