The school is participating in the GI Jamie Digital Inventors program for the second year in a row, and with excellent results. Enrolment in the program has increased after an overwhelmingly positive response from parents.

GI Jamie is the brainchild of David Lee, who, after years working in the tech industry saw an opportunity to encourage greater diversity in the field by fostering early engagement with digital technologies.

Ellen Hollowood, Digital Technologies coordinator at Cheltenham, says the 10-week program has provided students with a unique opportunity to learn more about the tech sector.

Cheltenham is a STEAM school with a strong digital literacy focus where children are taught coding from Foundation through to Year 6.

GI Jamie gives students the chance to extend their skills, rather than rehash what they’ve already learnt.

“…It was more of an enrichment opportunity to keep building on what they were already learning within the classroom.

“In the classroom we’re doing a lot of … the ‘drop and drag’ style blocks of coding, whereas the students doing this program use HTML and CSS,” Hollowood says.

But coding is only a small part of it. Hollowood says that the program aims to ultimately “inspire” students to think critically about the tech they use and its purpose.

“[The students] … were quite empowered because they realised that they could not only just consume technology but they could also be the creators of it as well.”

Students created a digital solution to a given problem, beginning with an ‘ideation’ phase and then working together to create and market their product.

Some of the projects included a search engine targeted at 10-11 year olds and an anti-bullying Google Chrome extension that would flag inappropriate comments on social media platforms.

In each case, students were encouraged to explore solutions to issues that mattered to them.

“It was very authentic,” Hollowood says.

Cheltenham hopes to bring David Lee and his crew back next year to continue the program.