North Wales school makes computer science fun

Students at a school in North Wales have been learning more about computer science and how to build robots.

Demonstrating how the curriculum needs to focus on IT, Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan in Abergele has started running an after-school club for children interested in developing high-tech careers.

The club, called Code@emrys, lets older students learn how to write code for computers and introduces younger pupils to the world of robotic technology.

ICT and computer science teacher Karen Khan, who helped set up the club, said it’s aim is to get pupils interested in technology and to improve their skills in their own time. 

Computer science made fun

Khan explained that programming isn’t part of the curriculum in Wales, unlike England, and that the school doesn’t want its students to miss out on exciting opportunities in tech.

She said: “Some of the programming skills pupils learn are not part of the curriculum here in Wales. What is compulsory in England isn’t here and we don’t want our students missing out.

We set up code@emrys to offer learners the chance to improve their coding and programming skills, while offering robotics as a fun way to learn advanced computing.

Different IT skills taught

The club is proving popular among all types of students – both older and younger. They’ve been learning how to code through languages such as Python and Java, and building robots through Lego Mind Storms.

She said “We have more than a dozen pupils attending each afternoon session, sometimes more. The older students have been working through Python, a Java-based computer programme while younger students have been using Lego Mind Storms to build working robots.

Students are really enthusiastic about learning computer programming and of course the skills they learn are transferable to other subjects such as maths.”

She added: We really want our students to be able to create and develop new computer programmes and systems rather than just be computer users.”

Students are keen to learn

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan maths and computer science teacher Ian Lloyd also said: It’s important our students are in control and in charge of computers, rather than computers controlling them.

The students that attend code@emrys are really enthusiastic and keen to learn – it is an after school club and there is absolutely no compulsion to attend. Students come along because they want to learn and improve their programming and coding skills.

I have absolutely no doubt we have some very talented young computer programmers here at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan, who will have the opportunity to forge a career in computer programming and computer development in the years ahead.”

Helping youngsters achieve their dreams

Students Tibore Hangyal and Joshua Woodward, who are both 14 and from Kimmel Bay, want to become computer games designers when they’re older. The club is helping them achieve this dream.

Tibore said: I’ve learnt a great deal and what we learn is adding to what we study in class. It’s all helpful and will be very useful in the future.

Joshua said: Having the chance to come to an after school club where we can look at computer coding and programming in more detail is really helpful. And being an after school club the atmosphere is very relaxed.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins added: “We strongly believe that learners benefit from having access to a wide range of after school clubs and classes, and the emphasis is on giving as many learners as possible the opportunity to participate

“Our ethos is to encourage all our learners to dare to achieve the best they can, right across the curriculum. The code@emrys club is a great example of how staff are working with students to give them extra skills in a very enjoyable setting, and help them towards the next step in their career.”