Introducing Rachel Ivory, a student who became a role model for girls at Durham Johnston school.
In this blog post, we talk to Rachel Ivory, an inspiring student who set up the project Social Code at her secondary school. Rachel has been using Code Club projects and resources to introduce her younger peers to the wonders of computer science.
In Year 9, Rachel was the only girl in her class showing a real interest in computer science. When she started in Year 10, the school’s uptake for the GCSE subject was 16 boys and just 2 girls.
In showing her passion for the subject, Rachel soon heard some stereotypical ideas that computer science is a ‘nerdy subject’ or ‘just for boys’ — and she realised that this was deterring some girls from getting involved.
Determined to do something about this, Rachel set up Social Code, an initiative to encourage young people of all genders to take up computer science. Rachel said her aim was “to change their perspective and provide them with essential skills that will benefit them in life.”
Rachel started by conducting research on what was stopping girls in her school from pursuing computer science, and then she ran fun sessions and assemblies to challenge preconceptions.
Soon Rachel, now head digital leader at her school, had built a club that was really making a difference. On the first session she had just three boys attending, but in under a year, five girls had joined the club. Rachel’s club sessions consist of different tasks, games, and challenges, with Code Club projects and resources as an essential component.
“The girls who have come to Social Code are flourishing with computing and learning to code really well,” said Rachel.
What’s more, Rachel believes that Social Code has made a real impact on the way young people in her school see the subject. She has also been to a number of primary schools to talk about online safety with the aim of attracting the interest of younger girls.
“Providing opportunities for young girls now will provide great things for the world in the future,” Rachel added.
We also spoke to Rachel’s Computer Science Teacher, Mr Garside, who reflected on the great experience Code Club has provided for both the students and staff at the school.
“It has given us the chance to spend a little more time on some elements of computer science than we might have during timetabled lessons, such as getting out the micro:bits and Raspberry Pis.”
Rachel also became the first winner of the Miss Bittlestone Award for Girls in Computer Science at her school. Miss Bittlestone was a former computer science teacher who worked with students to improve the accessibility of the subject. Miss Bittlestone sadly passed away but Rachel has been inspired by her to take the mantle.
Mr Garside is very proud of the work Rachel has done in preparing content, leading assemblies, and acting as role model to younger students.
“Having Rachel as a digital leader has been a real asset to the school, as she is
helping us with our mission to encourage more girls to be interested in the subject,” said Mr Garside.
Start a Code Club
Rachel’s story shows how simple it is to start a Code Club at your secondary school: encourage students to help you run the club, and then register your school on the Code Club website.
Are you running a club like Rachel’s, with older students supporting younger coders? Code Club would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org