Daughter of Chester fish and chip shop owners awarded MBE

The daughter of Roger and Sylvia Needham, well known in the city for Needham’s Fish and Chips, Julia grew up in Newton attending the local primary school, Kingsway High School and the University of Chester.

Julia began her career in education 26 years ago as a teacher in Cheshire. In 2006 she joined Liverpool-based company, MGL, developing her vision for tech in schools, and how it could transform outcomes for learners.

She would go on to play a lead role in establishing and managing the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), an £84 million government-funded programme to upskill teachers to deliver world-class computing education in schools.

Under her leadership, the Computing at School (CAS) teachers’ network has grown in influence and now has over 25,000 teacher members.

As MD for Education and Public Benefit at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, she strives to give every young person the digital skills they need to succeed in life and work.

BCS’ Barefoot scheme, which supports primary teachers with learning materials and lesson plans, has so far reached 2.85 million children across the UK.

Julia said: “I want this honour to recognise the work of every teacher who brings digital skills and computing education into young people’s lives.

“I became passionate about the wonder and power of computing as a primary school teacher over 25 years ago and it was clear then it would only become more important.

“Today with the emergence of AI, it is absolutely vital that every girl and boy has the digital skills and qualifications they need to achieve their ambitions and thrive. Computing gets everywhere, like glitter – there’s no going back!”

Global IT entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley, a Distinguished Fellow of BCS said: “Julia is an inspirational role model to young women building careers in technology, whether that is through teaching, leading organisations or starting new businesses. She has dedicated her life to bringing the life-changing benefits of computing and tech to everyone. This honour recognises how much she has achieved as well as her ambition to do even more.”

Chester and District Standard | Education