A NEW children's software class to enthuse the next generation of Bill Gateses and Steve Jobses has been launched in Malvern.

The Raspberry Jam sessions, at the Wyche Innovation Centre, encourage youngsters to develop their coding skills using the educational Raspberry Pi computer.

Students from Colwall Primary School, Malvern Wells Primary School, The Chase and Malvern St James met volunteers from high-tech companies, who shared their knowledge and helped them develop their programmes.

Paddy Fawcett of the Little Pi Shop, based at the centre, said: “It was great to see kids embracing a bare-bones computer and coming away full of enthusiasm, and having created their first computer game on their own. Many had never seen a Raspberry Pi before, but that did not hold them back. We were lucky to have some more experienced programmers who explained the basics very clearly.

"With the new computing curriculum coming into primary and secondary schools this September, there is no better time to give children a head start in learning about programming. The Raspberry Pi offers this in an affordable way.”

Adrian Burden of Key IQ, which manages the centre, said: “When I was young, we had numerous computing platforms available to learn software programming on. I had a ZX Spectrum, schools had BBC Micros, and friends had Vic 20s and Commodore 64s.

"Today, PCs, laptops, and tablets aren’t really in a form that encourages getting under the bonnet of a computer and creating software programs of your own. The Raspberry Pi is a great, low-cost modern platform for doing this, as you can make full use of the Internet and existing computing peripherals, and control your own hardware.

"Raspberry Jam is an opportunity to bring along your own Pi and show people what you have done with it, seek advice or be inspired."

The Raspberry Jams are held on the third Wednesday of every month after school, with the next on March 19. Places are limited, so participants need to register in advance by visiting wyche-innovation.com/index.php/events.