Age of chil­dren tak­ing part in com­puter code club

Oldham Advertiser - - BIG PICTURE - SUE CARR

LIT­TLE crack­ers are get­ting ahead in com­put­ing with their own ‘Code Club.’

Young­sters meet each week to learn the lan­guage of com­puter pro­gram­ming – a skill which is be­ing taught in pri­mary schools for the first time from this year. A part­ner­ship be­tween the coun­cil, Old­ham-based Web Ap­pli­ca­tions UK and Old­ham Ath­letic where the free club is based, it is hoped it will en­cour­age and equip whiz­zkids with skills for the fu­ture.

Suzy Chap­man, the coun­cil’s study support man­ager, is in charge of the club which has around 20 reg­u­lar mem­bers, aged nine to 13, who meet at Lat­ic­zone on Thurs­day nights from 6pm.

Us­ing a sim­ple pro­gram called Scratch, chil­dren are taught how to cre­ate their own com­puter games and can also save their work to con­tinue when they get home.

She said: “Web Ap­pli­ca­tions were will­ing to give staff time to come and help the young peo­ple to learn about cod­ing.

“They have a strong part­ner­ship with OAFC and they wanted to give some­thing back to the com­mu­nity and of­fer an op­por­tu­nity for young peo­ple to de­velop their knowl­edge and skills about how com­put­ers work.

“We started it last year, at the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber, and we’ve now got 30-plus young peo­ple on the ac­tual reg­is­ter with about 18 to 20 reg­u­lars who come back ev­ery week.

“We’ve got young peo- ple from all dif­fer­ent schools and not just in Old­ham.

“They ab­so­lutely love it, they think it’s fan­tas­tic and it’s given them a head­start on oth­ers in their class.”

Ed­u­ca­tion chiefs in­tro­duced cod­ing into the cur­ricu­lum after re­search showed how im­por­tant ba­sic pro­gram­ming skills would be in the fu­ture.

And Web Ap­pli­ca­tions, which also run sev­eral ‘code clubs’ in lo­cal schools, say they are happy to help.

Kathryn Field­ing, an ad­min­is­tra­tor at the Hall Street firm, said: “Tech­nol­ogy is now at the cen­tre of almost ev­ery business but it’s so un­der-rep­re­sented, there are so many de­vel­oper jobs and peo­ple aren’t qual­i­fied to take them.

“We are re­ally in­volved in the com­mu­nity and cod­ing is the core of what we do so we have ex­per­tise that we can share.

“With Scratch it’s rel­a­tively easy to follow and if chil­dren have grown up with com­put­ers they are a lot more re­cep­tive to it.

“I am there if the kids need any help but most of the time they are teach­ing me!”

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Suzy on 0161 770 8997 or email suzy. chap­man@old­ham.gov. uk.

Emma Wil­liams

Ten-year-olds Adam Hig­gin­son and Wil­liam Hendry

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