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Durham Johnston tech students getting new insights from Banks Group IT team

Five of the Durham Johnston students (from nearest the camera) Zak Beattie, Zak Ahmed, Matthew Swinbank, Jonathan Alderson and Harry Middlemas, with (behind, front) their IT teacher Paul Digby and David Wilson of the Banks Group 

Sixth form computer science students at a Durham school are getting a taste of what their future working lives could be like thanks to input from a regional employer.

Applications development analyst David Wilson from mining, property and renewable energy firm the Banks Group has been working with pupils from Durham Johnston Comprehensive School to give them an insight into how the programming and coding topics they’re studying are applied by development teams in workplace situations.

David gave the school’s eight Computer Science A Level students an initial presentation on how technology is used by Durham-headquartered Banks across its different business areas before setting them the task of presenting their current projects back to him and then providing new ideas on ways to tackle their work.

Guidance is also being provided to the pupils on how to overcome technology problems, as well as on different solutions that they might consider for the school projects on which they’re working.

Paul Digby, IT teacher at the Durham Johnston, says: “Part of the Computer Science A Level course involves the pupils working through the complete development life cycle for a specific project, from initial brief through to design and delivery, and we wanted to give them an idea of how this process is tackled in a live environment.

“David’s initial presentation provided an excellent insight into how computing skills are utilised in commercial environments, while the insight and guidance he offered on their projects has helped them to identify what their priorities need to be as they work towards completing them.

“The input that the company has provided so far has been very well received, and we can see lots of opportunities for making use of their industry and technical knowledge in other ways in the future.”

David Wilson, applications development analyst at the Banks Group, adds: “There’s a big difference between learning about programming in academic settings and the work that technology teams do to support commercial operations.

“Our aim with this project is to give the Durham Johnston students the benefit of our experience in finding solutions to real life programming briefs, as well showing them that they have the chance to build technology careers in their home area with employers such as ourselves, and giving them this sort of early insight into what we do will help show how their academic work could translate into what they might do at work in the future.

“We’ve had really positive feedback on the work that’s been done so far and have very much enjoyed taking part in them – the students have all been really engaged during our sessions, and being able to provide advice and guidance on the work that they’re undertaking will hopefully benefit them both now and in their future careers.”

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