IBM HursleyWith a national trend which sees girls’ interest in computers decline as they get older, Harrow Way Community School has enlisted the help of IBM to keep Year 8 female students on the ICT track. A recent visit to the company’s base in Hursley, which is Europe’s largest software development facility, was designed to inspire the students to follow up a career in computers.

Harrow Way ICT Teacher Rian Torres explains the importance of such trips: “When students are in Key Stage One or Two there is no difference between boys and girls in either their love of computing or their ability at the subject. However as they grow up, somehow a large percentage of female students tend to drop the subject and this is something which is happening across the entire country. ICT and computers are fundamental to all aspects of life and business and it is important that we encourage female students to see the opportunities within this huge industry so they could consider one day pursuing a career in the sector.”

While at IBM the students were tasked with a number of projects. They had to conceive a new product: an app with potential to be developed and sold in the real world. Switching to a different but important business discipline they then had to consider a marketing strategy and requirements for a website. Finally during an ‘expo of ideas’, in front of the experts at IBM, the students presented their apps, marketing concepts and a voting technique they had also designed which was then all voted on by the IBM employees.

The trip has proved a huge success with all the students confirming they really benefited from the experience and in the words of student Zara Davis who said: “The best thing was seeing how to use ICT in the real world and not in an isolated environment such as a classroom.”