Teen Breathe

Girls who code

Coding is the language of the future – it’s easy to learn, fun to use to make your own website, game or app, and could even help you win your dream job.

Amali de Alwis is the head of Code First: Girls, an organisation that aims to get more women coding and working in the world of tech. It runs courses for over-18s but Amali would like to see more girls getting involved: ‘Some people think if they haven’t done it since the age of six they’ve missed the boat,’ she says, ‘but that’s absolutely not the case. There’s lots of help out there to set you on a journey that will be challenging and exciting and that will give you a good career at the end.’

We’re not talking about ending up in a boring office fixing other people’s computers. Coding is a versatile skill that can be applied in all sorts of jobs – entertainment, games, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and more. According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics in 2017, only 3.9 per cent of people working in tech were female programmers and software developers, so any girls who do have a go at coding have the chance to be trailblazers for change as well.

So what’s in it for me?

  • Coding experts widely agree that it can improve mental agility, everyday communication skills, problem solving, creativity and logical thinking.
  • A sense of satisfaction: rather than playing something someone else has created over and over again, you can make something new of your own.
  • It builds confidence in exploring the wider digital world of apps, games and web design.
  • There are social benefits from joining coding clubs and after-school groups and meeting people with a similar interest and sharing ideas.
  • It can mean more money when you go to work: research by Tech City UK found that tech jobs pay 36 per cent more than the national average.
  • You will be in demand: the UK alone will need a further one million tech workers to meet the requirements of employers in 2020.

There are plenty of ways you can get involved, either online or through after-school clubs and holiday workshops, often for free or at little cost.

Some of our favourite resources:

Code Kingdoms

Designed for eight to 14 year olds, this offers easy-to-use online tutorials for you to learn coding by creating your own Minecraft modifications or games. Bundle prices and family packages are available and parents can be sent weekly progress updates.


Works with schools and colleges to help young people and teachers access STEM Clubs (science, technology, engineering and maths) and links with STEM Ambassadors.

Junior Game Creators

This is a network of after-school clubs, holiday workshops and code camps held at school, libraries and other venues across the UK with the motto ‘playing games is fun, creating games is genius’. Free membership with discounts to live events.


Offers free coding classes in a wide range of different programming languages and HTML.


Online self-learning site to get the basics of web development for beginners, including HTML and Javascript.

Kids Ruby

A fun way to learn the Ruby computer language through creating games and other simple programs, with a split screen function that shows what the code says and what it does.


Step-by-step interactive learning app, available for iPhone and iPad. Involves dragging and dropping blocks of code to make up new programs. Aimed at students aged 10 and over.

  • Words: Nigel Huddleston.
  • Illustrations: Matt Chinworth.
  • Extract from Teen Breathe Issue 6. Buy your copy here, or the digital edition here.