Tim Hodges and Falconbrook School: Getting Schools to Code!
As a famous visionary called Steve Jobs once said: "Everyone in this country should learn how to program, because it teaches you how to think"—a truly powerful phrase stated by Jobs in an interview back in 1995.
This is how Tim Hodges applied this ideology to Falconbrook School. Tim is a property investor specialising in buying and selling houses and flats in Greater London. Outside of property investments, he is also an engaging speaker, mentor, and coach.
Falconbrook is a state primary school in Wandsworth, southwest London. It is a caring and aspirational school with a strong sense of community and high expectations for their pupils. However, like many state schools in England, Falconbrook does not have the funds available to run coding programs for kids.
So, what is the story behind Tim Hodges?
At the age of 8, Tim was introduced to chess by his dad who played once a month with a friend who beat him consistently. "I always remember being fascinated by this wooden board with strange-looking pieces," mused Tim. "My dad slowly started teaching me, which coincided with me being labelled with dyslexia. This was extremely unnerving for me, as I remember being bullied at primary school and also, sadly, being ridiculed in front of the Head. This left me with a feeling of inadequacy."
"Being labelled ‘stupid’ created a bubble for me—a ceiling—which I was unable to break through. I convinced myself I could not achieve anything in life and had created my own achievement level. There was self-justification when I was not able to complete a particular task. I told myself, it's ok, I can’t do this because of my problem. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy."
This all changed when Tim joined the chess club at Honeywell School in southwest London. He soon found out he was actually quite good at chess, which allowed him to break through his ceiling. "Chess showed me I wasn’t stupid! I actually discovered a different reality and new possibilities. I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but looking back, I saw how chess made a positive impact on my life then—and still does to this day."
What has been very prominent for Tim in his property business is the mantra: “Check the board”, where he is always aware of the various options available (exit strategies) and is very reflective on decisions that need to be made. Coupling this with the many other benefits of chess—such as consequences of actions, sportsmanship, mathematics, pattern recognition, and concentration—has helped significantly in his personal and professional life.
"My partnership with CSC (Chess in Schools and Communities) came about a few years ago when I set up a chess club at my daughter’s school," Tim continued. "I could see how much fun the children were having and, more importantly, how good they were. It was then that I came across CSC who supplied the school with all chess materials and boards completely free of charge. They also arranged a competition where a small group of children would be chosen from London to play the great Kasparov at the House of Lords. I decided to put Katie forward, not because she was the best player, but because her growth from a timid girl to a confident chess player was enough to merit it. Amazingly, she was chosen and lasted 45 mins with Kasparov, and it was at this point I knew I had to work with CSC to assist them with their mission. Katie’s experience will stay with her forever, but more importantly, so will the skills she has learnt. This is why I’m so passionate and grateful that my business is working with CSC to expose chess to every primary school in the country."
Tim's experiences taught him that success cannot merely be measured by financial gain.
His wish is to give back to his community, and he knows that investing in children's education is one of the best ways to do it. After his son joined a coding course with Geeky Kids, he thought it would be a great idea to collaborate with us as well and help support a school in his community to teach their students how to code.
In October 2021, Tim reached out to Geeky Kids asking if we could run Virtual LIVE coding sessions for Falconbrook Primary School. The program went on for three consecutive terms until the end of 2022. It was a complete success, and the children were thrilled with what they had learned. Students at Falconbrook learnt how to code using Scratch, Python, and Roblox. Knowing how to code improved their problem-solving skills and logical thinking, as well as their ability to understand and work with technology. They were proud of their new capabilities and the programs they created, and they could see that coding was a skill that could open doors for them in the future.
Thanks to Tim, the children at Falconbrook Primary School were given an opportunity they would otherwise not have achieved.
It is stories like this that show how a single person can make a significant difference in the lives of many. The world needs more organizations and people like Tim who understand the importance of investing in the education of children and are willing to make a difference.
If you are interested in making a similar valuable contribution through coding, you can learn more about our initiative at Get a School to Code Scheme.