An Ipswich computer expert who went from “bedroom hacker” to a BAFTA-winning teacher is marking a decade of running a technology-based school.
Creative Computing Club was founded by Matthew Applegate in 2012 after he gave up his job in London and to give Ipswich youngsters the kind of opportunities he benefitted from.
“When I was 10, I got my first computer. And then when I was 12, I broke into my first military bank,” he says.
“I’ve gone from being a bedroom hacker to training up the next generation of kids.”
Luckily, he didn’t get into any trouble, as his father worked at the American army base in Germany where the family was living.
Instead, Matthew was given plenty of resources to explore his interest in technology, and allowed to “program to his heart’s content.”
“I ended up working for companies like Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Google. Then I moved into working for governments, both UK and US,” he explains.
“I was very lucky in my career, but I wondered whether the kids behind me would have that same luck.”
So, Matthew returned to Ipswich and established his own school, focusing solely on teaching technology skills.
“To begin with, there were 10 kids in Chantry Library after school on a Wednesday. Now, we work with around 350 kids a week.”
In his 10 years of teaching, Matthew estimates over 10,000 students have passed through his school.
At Creative Computing Club, Matthew and his team deliver courses ranging from computer programming to video game design, web development and robotics, with impressive results.
Students can attend after school, and study for their GCSE and A-levels in IT and Computer Science. During the day, the school is attended by SEN students.
“I get so many lovely letters from students, who say they’re now working at Google, or Aviva, they’re in their dream job, and it’s because of the years I spent teaching them,” he says.
Matthew was even awarded a BAFTA award in 2019, recognising his work bringing young people into the video game industry and helping them form successful careers.
He will be celebrating with a party with students both past and present.