TECH-SAVVY students at Ripon Grammar School are way ahead of the game when it comes to computer coding.

Industry expert and experienced computer games designer Cliff Davies runs a popular after-school club where pupils learn to create their own computer apps, programmes and games using coding language.

Cliff – who has worked for companies including Atari and Big Fish and has helped design more than 50 computer games for consoles including the Sega Saturn and PSX through to the current ‘next generation’ consoles – started the club in early 2019 with eight to ten students.

Today, around 20 keen young computer buffs turn up every week to test their powers of reasoning and logic while improving their coding skills – and developing some impressive games along the way.

Martha Robinson, 14, from Markington, has developed her own Food Dash game which involves ‘eating’ and ‘growing’ food to progress in each level: “Every level is a different maze with different obstacles. Also, as you get bigger It’s harder to make your way around,” she explained.

She joined the club because she thought it would be fun and is keen to encourage more girls to have a go: “I have learnt much more about coding and am proud of actually making my project work, with the help of my friends and Mr Davies.”

Sam Lewis, 13, from Ripon, has created a number of games and wants to build his own computers one day: “I was eager to learn a new coding language and never knew how to create games before I joined the club.”

Cliff explained:  “Even if you just learn the basics it’s going to open many possible doors at a later date and will certainly remove the apprehension of programming at a later date should it arise,” he says.

With the consolidation of personal computers and the internet into emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, robotics and biotechnology, many believe it’s crucial to improve the coding skills of the younger generation in order to prepare them for future occupations in our technological world: “It’s getting more and more difficult to name an area of employment that doesn’t involve computers and specific or general programs that are running on them. That gives an idea of how important programming is both in real life and in the jobs market,” says Cliff.

And, with the EU predicting a skills shortage of 800,000 IT jobs across the EU by 2020, he stresses just what a highly marketable skill programming is to have on your CV: “I suspect programming positions will far exceed the number of graduates coming out of programming degrees to a higher and higher amount each year.”