Teacher’s coding club to go national

Teacher Toni Scullion is pictured with members of the dressCode group.
Teacher Toni Scullion is pictured with members of the dressCode group.

A dedicated Midlothian teacher committed to closing the gender gap in computing science and cyber security has been lauded by Scotland’s industry leaders, as she prepares to launch a new charitable project.

In the coming months Toni Scullion, 32, from Gorebridge will formally launch dressCode, a modern lunch club for schoolgirls keen to learn and apply coding.

In recent years, Toni, who teaches at St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn, has helped three pupils form Turing’s Testers, a cyber security team that placed highly in a number of Scottish and UK competitions.

Their success helped them to land the coveted Champion of Champions award at last year’s Scottish Cyber Awards. The girls are currently using their skills to build a nationwide cyber treasure hunt.

Toni was also recognised as Cyber Security Teacher of the Year – putting her firmly on the radar of an industry which regards her as the leading example of a teacher preparing students for the requirements of the modern world of work in a crucial part of Scotland’s economy.

An all-girls code club aiming to close the gender gap, dressCode explores game design, app design, web development and cyber security. An interactive website and syllabus will help girls from around Scotland to get involved and learn important practical skills, with potential for future events and collaborations.

Toni said: “If you can code, you can change the world – and I want girls to feel empowered about this. Coding is such a core, fundamental skill for swathes of the workplace now – and it is only going to get more important.

“I honestly don’t think I would have had the confidence to try to make a real difference if it wasn’t for all the support and kindness that has come since winning the awards.

“I’ll be launching dressCode this year just trying to get finishing touches to website done. Games design and web design will be launched this year with cyber security and app development coming later. I’m so excited about it.”

Mandy Haeburn-Little, Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) chief executive, praised Toni for her work.

She said: “For Scotland to reach its potential as a leading cyber security nation, it needs talent coming through. Not only that, the threat posed by criminals online is diverse – and so it needs a diverse workforce to deliver the creativity required to combat this effectively.