Star computing girls set for more bytes of glory
The 'A' Star Awards - aimed at tackling a serious skills shortage in the IT industry - will be given to girls scoring the highest marks in this year's 'A' Level or Scottish Advanced Higher examinations in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Prizes will be presented in Manchester in November at The Skills Show 2002 which is expected to attract 50,000 visitors.
Ailsa Symeonides, Sales and Marketing Director of Edinburgh-based Help Desk and IT Service Management software specialist Axios, commented: "The inaugural year was a resounding success and we want to build on this by creating an even bigger impact.
"The project received keen support from Government, the UK's six leading examination awarding bodies, IT firms, schools and colleges, and not least the girls themselves. All agreed that we must step up efforts to encourage more women to take up careers in computing which remains a predominantly male bastion."
Prizes will include cash, trophies, laptop computers and a trip to the USA. The event will be run again under the auspices of e-competitions, the umbrella body for computing competitions in the UK which works closely with the Department for Education and Skills.
All six examination awarding bodies have confirmed that they will support the Awards again. They are AQA, Edexcel, OCR (all England), CCEA (Northern Ireland), WJEC (Wales) and SQA (Scotland).
The Chief Executive of Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), Dr Ron McLone, said: "Following the success of last year's event OCR is delighted to support the 'A' Star Awards again.
"As the UK's leading provider of IT qualifications we fully support the aim of encouraging more women to take up a career in the sector. These awards are a first class way of promoting the IT industry as an excellent career option for women.
"OCR has the most exciting and innovative IT qualifications available and I know the students who successfully take them will have an A Star future in the industry."
Awards to the top students in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were presented by the respective Education Ministers last year. The best students in England and the UK received their prizes from Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, at a major conference in London on women in IT. The overall winner was 19-year-old Clara Boyd from Portadown College, Northern Ireland, who is now at Cambridge University.