A leading full fibre network platform has teamed up with an educational project at the University of Edinburgh to inspire the next generation of data scientists.

CityFibre and Data Education in Schools are creating a learning tool that helps school pupils develop skills in data science.

The project supports the SQA’s Data Science National Progression Award (NPA), a school level qualification in data science, which is the first of its kind.

Data Education in Schools is part of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Skills Gateway – a £6.9 million investment in data skills and education as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

CityFibre’s support of the project comes as it is investing more than £100m to bring its full fibre network to within reach of almost every home and business across the city.

The digital infrastructure company provided a data set and problem statement which has been developed into an end-to-end example activity, guiding users through the steps of solving a real-world business problem using data.

This allows students to get practical data science experience and develop an understanding of how data is used in society, whilst highlighting the benefits in applying a data solution to a business problem.

It has been designed in such a way that it can be done virtually if required, ensuring the programme is “accessible to all”. It also includes the flexibility so that the business question can be changed and different outputs developed.

The programme has been successfully trialled in schools, with one school reporting three senior pupils deciding to study data science at university on the back of completing the NPA. Teaching resources are now being developed with the programme being rolled out across the UK.

Kate Farrell, director of development and professional learning, Data Education in Schools, University of Edinburgh, said: “Schools have found it so valuable having access to a local dataset. Educators have appreciated seeing how data science can take place in the workplace and learners find it useful to see that the skills they are learning in class can be applied in the workplace.

“The CityFibre resource is particularly welcomed by educators because it gives learners an understanding of the assessment for the National Progression Award in Data Science and a chance to practice their skills.”

Elaine Doherty, head of data insights at CityFibre, added: “As soon as we heard about the NPA Data Science award and its potential to encourage the next generation to get involved in data science, we really wanted to support the project. Across our world-class full fibre networks, we handle massive amounts of data and can see the value of managing data well, and the massive benefits data can bring to businesses.

“The skills required to handle data effectively are transferrable across a number of different sectors, and these skills are becoming more and more sought after in an increasingly digital workforce. We are thrilled to see how our partnership has developed into such an engaging tool and hope it helps to encourage the next generation of data scientists.”

CityFibre is currently rolling out full fibre digital infrastructure across Edinburgh, “future-proofing” the city’s connectivity and enabling residents, businesses and services to benefit from fast, reliable internet services.