Exciting tales of saving the world, espionage and royal intrigue were the order of the day at Altrincham Preparatory School this week as children’s author and code cracking expert Jo Welch guided boys through centuries of coding.
The Stockport author of The Einstein Code trilogy, featuring the exploits of Ben, Freddie and Jess, made coding come to life through a series of historical tales featuring everyone from Henry VIII to Alan Turing, before letting the boys loose on a tricky Caesar cipher. But they cracked it.
“I had a wonderful time and was very impressed by the keen readers, code crackers and writers I met,” said Jo. “The stories of coding have changed the world and I hope I enthused the boys to try making their own: after all, the code that modern spies probably still use is the easiest one to put together.”
The boys certainly agreed. “It was really fun to try and crack the code and then find out whether you’d worked it out correctly,” said Luke, from Year 6. “I’m looking forward to trying some of my own out.”
Jo is putting the finishing touches to the final part of her trilogy, planned for next year, and also spoke to the boys about how she writes. “I asked them to think about language, character and what, for them, makes a great story,” she said. “It’s great if that encouraged them to read my books, but really I want to motivate them to use their imaginations to write their own stories.”
Altrincham Preparatory School Deputy Head Lindsay McKenna was impressed by the boys’ attitude and ability in solving coding problems which are usually for children many years older.
“As a school we do a lot of reasoning, and the boys are used to code work,” she said. “So they are very good at thinking logically. As Jo showed coding is such a valuable skill as it feeds into English, Mathematics and History to name just three subjects - and of course in the case of her wonderful books, it can encourage a love of reading, too.”