How the National Centre for Computing Education can help your Code Club

Whether you’re a teacher just starting out on your Code Club journey, or you have been running a Code Club for many years, the National Centre for Computing Education can support you and your professional development. 

We invited Paul Thornton, Network Education Lead for the National Centre for Computing Education, to share with us what the programme is and what support is available for teachers in England who are running a Code Club or looking at setting up a Code Club in their school. 

A primary school classroom, with a row of three boys are sat at a desk working on laptops. 
Classroom displays can be seen in the background, along with a Code Club volunteer.
Children learning to code at Welwyn St Mary’s Primary School Code Club

What is the National Centre for Computing Education? 

The National Centre for Computing Education was established in November 2018, backed by £84 million of government funding. It is led by a consortium of STEM Learning, the Raspberry Pi Foundation and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

The National Centre is working to equip teachers in England with the skills and confidence to teach the new, reformed computer science curriculum, with the aim to encourage more participation in the subject at GCSE and A level.

“Our vision is for every child in every school in England to have a world-leading computing education.”  

– National Centre for Computing Education

How will it benefit teachers running Code Clubs?  

If you’re a teacher running a Code Club, the National Centre for Computing Education offers a number of opportunities that you can access for free, including training, resources, and local support for both primary and secondary school teachers.

A young Code Club girl is sat at a desk smiling whilst looking at her laptop. Knelt down beside her is a female volunteer who is looking at the laptop and is smiling too.
A young Code Club member sharing her project

Professional development

The National Centre for Computing Education provides free online and face-to-face training on a variety of topics and skills, with something to suit everyone. 

This includes a wide range of pedagogy-based courses for Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 3, which offer ready-to-implement teaching techniques, from ‘unplugged’ activities to programming lessons.

You may also be interested in the Computer Science Accelerator Programme, which can help you develop the subject knowledge needed to teach GCSE Computer Science. Although this programme is aimed at KS4, upskilling to this level will increase your confidence to set up and run a club for 9- to 13-year-olds. 

Resources

A growing collection of learning resources are available for free on the National Centre for Computing Education website. These resources offer a wealth of inspiration to help you run your club, including teacher guides and activities. 

Community support

Wherever you live in England, there are local experts on hand to support you to set up a Code Club, access equipment, and share your experiences with other teachers: 

  • Computing Hubs provide local, responsive, and tailored support for teachers across England. Soon the Hubs will also have physical kits that schools can borrow, which is perfect for trying something new at your Code Club.
  • Subject Matter Experts are situated across England and can support you and your school to set up your own Code Club.
  • CAS Communities (run by Computing at School) are networks of Computing teachers that share expertise, resources, and best practice, including sharing tips and advice from clubs that they have run.
A Code Club leader is sat at a desk, looking at  printed copy of Code Club project.
A Code Club leader trying out a project

Get started with Code Club and the National Centre for Computing Education

If your school is looking at setting up a Code Club, start your journey today and find out how you and your school can get involved. You can also keep up-to-date with Code Club news on Facebook and Twitter

Register for free on the National Centre for Computing Education website to find the latest news and courses. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know about any new opportunities available to you and your school. 

Bug in the machine: six top tips for debugging your code

Making mistakes and learning how to solve them is a key part of becoming a coder. Read on to find out about the origins of the word ‘debugging’, and discover our newest resource to help your club members work through troublesome code. 

Programme Coordinator Zoe, holding the new debugging poster against a backdrop of an illustration of a house
Programme Coordinator Zoe, was excited to get her hands on our brand new debugging poster

Making mistakes is a part of learning 

The term ‘bug’ is used to describe a technical problem or mistake in code that stops it from working or behaving as you would expect. Every coder, from total beginners to seasoned experts, will have to deal with coding bugs, and it’s important to know the different approaches that you can take to fix them. 

Debugging’ is the term given to the process of working through your code to find and fix your mistake. Many things can cause bugs, from incorrect logic, to syntax errors, or even something as small as a missed comma. 

Bug in the machine 

The term ‘debugging’ is often attributed to U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a computer programming pioneer. In September 1947, Admiral Hopper was working with a team at Harvard on the Mark II computer, when they found an issue in one of the computer’s relays: a small, unobtrusive moth. As the moth was removed and taped into their research logbook, Admiral Hopper is said to have remarked that the team was ‘debugging’ the system. And so, the term was born — or so the story goes!

Whatever its initial origins, today, ‘debugging’ is a term used by programmers all over the world. 

Get debugging in your Code Club! 

We’ve created a new poster to help your Code Club members to debug their code. The poster explains what a bug is, and gives six top tips for Code Club members to try if they find a bug in their code: 

An image of the debugging poster, featuring spiders.
  • Check the project instructions — Have you followed the steps correctly? 
  • Read your code out loud — Does this highlight anything that is obviously wrong? 
  • Find the last time when your project worked — Can you isolate which part of your code is broken? 
  • Show your Code Club leader — Can your club leader help find which bit of your code isn’t working? 
  • Ask a friend — Get another pair of eyes to check your code! 
  • Stay calm and keep trying new things — The most important thing is to not get frustrated; you’ll find your bug if you keep looking! 

If you’re based in the UK, the USA, or Ireland, head to your dashboard to download your copy of our debugging poster. 

If you’re based outside of the UK, the USA, or Ireland, head to our Code Club international website to download this poster and other resources.