Milton Keynes schoolgirls have a lesson in coding

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A group of the most talented female maths students from a Milton Keynes school learnt what it was like to do computer programming at University in a bid to encourage more girls to take up the subject.

A group of 13 Year Eight and Nine talented and able pupils from Sir Herbert Leon Academy spent a morning at the University of Buckingham studying coding and maths.

The trip was organised by the Applied Computing Department at the University, as part of a drive to encourage more girls to study computing and maths to degree level and beyond.

Dr Harin Sellahewa, head of applied computing, said: “More than 90% of students who are studying Computing at GCE A-level are male. A similar gender gap exists in computing courses at University, which has an adverse impact on the IT sector due to lack of diversity. It is important to get girls interested in coding from a young age.

“We offered a coding taster and I was so impressed by how quickly they learnt to code. We plan to organise several coding tasters and hackathons during 2017 to promote the study of computing at school, especially among girls. We want to show that coding is fun, exciting and it is not something to be left to boys alone.”

Pupil Bethany McGowan, 13, said: “It’s been fantastic. I’ve learned much more about coding and I’ve learnt some maths too. I like maths and it’s been really fun. There are actually quite a lot of similarities between the skills needed for maths and English so girls that like subjects like English can actually also enjoy doing maths if they give it a chance. They shouldn’t be put off. Maths and computing really isn’t too challenging.”

Dorothea Ibuaku-Patrick, second in the Maths Faculty at Sir Herbert Leon Academy, added: “We need to encourage more girls to do maths and computing. They are put off because they think it’s male-dominated. When we encourage them they realize it’s not as hard as they think. It’s not too difficult to master and can actually be quite fun.”