Manchester technology firm UKFast has installed a new IT suite at a school in the West Midlands.

The data hosting firm has built a Raspberry Pi Café at St Maria Goretti Catholic Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent, providing a flexible way for students to learn about programming and giving them the opportunity to get hands-on with the technology for the first time.

The ‘Pi Café’ is named after the Raspberry Pi computers installed at the facility and is designed to help youngsters and teachers alike get a handle on coding and other computing basics.

UKFast is providing the hardware, cabling, educational resources and teacher training for St Maria Goretti to ensure that students at the school have the opportunity to excel in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

"We need to run projects like this to engage the country's next generation of computer experts," said UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones MBE.

"The interest is there and so is the talent; we just need to make the connection between the devices which these young people are already engaged with and enjoy using, and the opportunity they have to get paid for experimenting with them.

"Traditional digital education sometimes lets kids down and we need to give young people the opportunity to get their hands dirty with new technology to unearth their creative talents as an alternative to sitting in a classroom environment."

Members of the UKFast technical development team have also been visiting the school to deliver Code Clubs and teacher training.

The students have also been on visits to UKFast's hi-tech campus in Manchester, to learn more about the technology industry and to find out about STEM careers.  

Headteacher Zoe Cooper said: "When UKFast approached us about the possibility of a Pi Cafe it was initially about making sure we were able to cover the technology and computing aspects of the curriculum to the best of our ability.

"But since entering into this partnership it's been about so much more than the basic curriculum. It’s raised the aspirations of the children and inspired them in a really amazing way.

"We've now identified that STEM is an area of the curriculum that we really want to push, because we know that there's a huge opportunity for the kids to work for companies like UKFast, who are really setting the bar high. It's about preparing the next generation of children to be problem solvers, working with technology that hasn’t been invented yet."