Government trials ‘learn to code’ tool for civil servants

Written by Sam Trendall on 9 November 2018 in News

Prototype built by members of Fast Stream scheme offers seven stage step-by-step service

A group of people on the Civil Service Fast Stream development programme have built an online tool to teach their fellow government employees to code.

The Learn to code site – which is currently in open beta phase – has been constructed as a step-by-step service, and currently covers six different modules: getting started; learning how the web works; building webpages; adding interactivity; web services; and databases.

Each module contains a series of different lessons – initially purely theoretical, with more and more practical tasks as you progress. Modules have been designed to be completed in a couple of days.

A seventh module on API consumption is currently in the works, and more are planned for the coming weeks.

The tool was created by a team of six people in the digital, data, and technology track of the Fast Stream. 

One of this team, Chris Dennett, digital strategy lead at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that he and some of his colleagues on the civil service development scheme “noticed that there was no training on offer that covered learning to code”.

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“Many of our year’s cohort had limited coding experience. But many of them recognised the value that understanding code could bring to their work,” Dennett said in a blog post. “We also saw the value it could bring to our colleagues’ work: bringing policy and delivery closer together is so much more effective when digital teams and policy teams understand each other’s needs.”

Learn to code is openly available for public use and user research is taking place with a new group of Fast Streamers. Dennett and his colleagues are volunteering their time and expertise to maintaining and develop the tool.

“We don’t yet know what the long-term future of the service will be; we’re exploring ways to get future development funded, and how to get the service a permanent home on GOV.UK,” Dennett said. “We want Learn to code to be accessible for anyone in the civil service to use, and we encourage people to try it out.”

The other members of the development team are: Nerea Harries, a delivery manager at the Office for National Statistics; Josh Hackett, a product manager on secondment at the Samaritans; Victoria Steenson, a delivery manager at the Department for International Trade; Maxwell Reiss, a content strategist at the Government Digital Service; and Israel Gichaara, a service designer at the Department for International Trade.

Civil servants who want to discuss the service can email the team at


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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