Active Coding Academies series at Strathallan cancelled – mystery surrounds fate of company

This post has been updated here.

A Scottish coding startup aimed at young people aged between 12 and 17 has cancelled a residential course planned for later this month at Strathallan School, leaving parents uncertain over whether they will be refunded.

In March this year, Edinburgh-based Active Coding Academies, which is operated by the digital agency i2diversify, said it was offering young people the chance to learn Python, React JS, Java and SQL, as well as take part in outdoor activities and themed evening events that would encourage them to work in teams and develop their ideas.

ACA’s founder and managing director Marc Dinardo said at the time: “There is nothing currently available that combines learning to code and physical activity, targeted towards teenagers. With a diverse range of careers now available to aspiring coders, we are seeking to develop a programme that appeals to both males and females across wide ranging backgrounds.”

But a parent who booked his daughter on the £1,299 two-week course contacted FutureScot to say that he had been told by Dinardo that it had been cancelled because of lack of uptake. In an email from Dinardo dated 14 July the parent was offered a refund, or alternative training, but when he opted for the refund he heard nothing. Subsequent emails to Dinardo bounced and the ACA website is currently down.

In his email to the parent, Dinardo said: “Please accept my sincere apologies for the lack of communication since you enrolled in our summer programme. I regret to inform you that I have had to take the decision to cancel the remaining summer programme sessions at Strathallan due to lower than expected interest for the summer camps. I have only been able to come to this final decision today after anticipating we might have received some last minute bookings for the camps to allow it to run.”

The parent told FutureScot: “He may be a great guy, but what will define him is how he reacts in the face of adversity, and his actions so far don’t demonstrate any great propensity to do the right thing.”

A PR company who had handled publicity for the course at Strathallan said it had been contacted by Dinardo yesterday to say that it had been cancelled because of lack of uptake and that it did not know what his plans were for the future of the initiative.