Schoolboy is one of UK’s top programmers

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A schoolboy has learned he is one of the top young computer programmers in the country after securing a place in the finals of a prestigious nationwide competition.

Jonathan Tanner, who goes to Ripon Grammar School, heard he is one of the top 15 competitors in the British Informatics Olympiad (BIO), which is open to students aged under 19 at secondary schools and sixth form colleges across the UK.

The 16-year-old will now compete at Cambridge University for a top four place that would see him representing Britain at the International Informatics Olympiad.

To get to the final, he took a three-hour exam at school in which he had to write a computer programme to solve problems, then answer theoretical questions.

ICT teacher at Ripon Grammar School, Bob Walker, had to then test Jonathan’s programme and mark it before sending it off to be moderated.

“I’d almost forgotten I’d entered so it was a complete surprise to hear I’d got through to the final. I actually thought I’d done badly in the exam and had no expectation from it all, which made it an even bigger surprise,” said Jonathan, who started computer programming aged 11 and now does it as a hobby.

Despite the excitement over making the top 15 he admitted to being disappointed at having to miss a school trip to Cern, the world’s biggest particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, which is taking place in April at the same time as the BIO final.

Jonathan, who is the son of the Bishop of Berwick, will take his A-levels in mathematics, further mathematics, physics and chemistry a year early this summer after being allowed to skip a year of primary school.

He also heard this month that he has the offer of a place to read mathematics and computer science at Oxford University in September.