Over 80 female students get unique insight into computer science education at a ‘first-of-its-kind innovative event.

The development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) ultimately requires more qualified professionals in these fields. However, recent findings show that in 2023 only 1 in 5 Computer Science entrants were female, ultimately contributing to a gender gap that means for some disciplines female representation will not even reach 30%.

Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust working with the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) Computing Hub for Newcastle, Durham and Cumbria, managed by one of its Secondary Schools, Cardinal Hume Catholic School, is taking steps to provide unique insight and inspire female students from all of its 5 Secondary Schools.

A new initiative developed by the NCCE ‘I Belong‘ is focused on engaging more girls in the subject of computer science and related careers at a national level, so BWCET and the Computing Hub at Cardinal Hume Catholic School have established a unique and innovative event. The event has a jam-packed agenda to inspire the next generation of female professionals, gaining invaluable insight from businesses that specialise in computer science, providing unique insights into the working world.

Uniquely, the event, taking place on Thursday 7 March, is being held at the Vertu Motors Arena, not only an inspiring local venue but home of the Newcastle Eagles basketball club. The connection is an important one supporting the unique link between basketball and STEM subjects. The day will include a practical session for students out on the basketball court to demonstrate these subjects in action. The session will involve analytics and the statistics behind playing basketball, demonstrating the fundamental role STEM plays in Basketball and how they work out the best place to take the shots.

Along with the basketball session, the event will give our female students the opportunity to use the Micro:bit to demonstrate computer programming through operating and controlling buggies and take part in a brand new game ‘Udder Disaster‘ from and being run by Waterston’s – a farmyard themed game that helps replicate real life events in a fun and interactive way.

The events objective is to inspire young women into fulfilling, sustainable future STEM careers, and takes place during National Careers Week 4 – 9 March and the day before International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world.

To help the students gain further insight into future career opportunities and pathways, a number of leading employers will be delivering innovative and tailored careers sessions to smaller groups of students. Confirmed employers include Arcadis, Enigma Interactive, Aspire Technology Solutions, the Department for Education and Sunderland Software City, and will be discussing subjects like computer science, engineering, technology, digital and AI.

Nick Hurn, OBE, CEO of Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to engage and educate our students, through providing meaningful experiences. This first-of-its-kind event is a great way of inspiring year 9 girls from within the trust to study these subjects. The event will showcase how fun and worthwhile computer science is and how young pupils could develop an exciting and fulfilling career.

Kate Mills, Hubs and Collaboration Manager and NCCE Computing Hub Lead for Newcastle, Durham and Cumbria, explains the gap in education that we are trying to fill. She explains: “As a computing hub, we want to work with schools using the ‘I Belong’ programme to inspire and encourage more girls into computer science due to the evident gender gap. We’re currently doing a lot of work with teachers at the moment and part of that is to show girls different aspects of computer science and encourage them to take this as an option at GCSE.

About Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust

Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust is a leading Trust covering the West of the Newcastle and Hexham Diocesan region.  The Trust supports and partners with five secondary schools, one middle school, one first school and forty-one primary schools in the west of our Diocese.

If you would like to know more please visit: bwcet.com.

The NCCE is funded by the Department for Education and supports partners and marks a significant investment in improving the provision of computing education in England.

The NCCE Computing Hubs are led by schools and colleges across England who demonstrate excellence in teaching computing. These Hubs support schools and colleges to provide a high-quality computing education to all young people.

Five BWCET schools are participating in this event, including Cardinal Hume Catholic School, St Robert of Newminster Catholic School, St. Bede’s Catholic School & Sixth Form College, St Thomas More Catholic School and St Leonard’s Catholic School.