Volunteer Story: Alastair Lockie

Here at Code Club we appreciate the effort and enthusiasm of our many fantastic volunteers and so every month we are going to ask one of them to blog about their experiences. First up is the awesome Alastair Lockie from Brighton:

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I’m lucky enough to be a JavaScript developer working at Brandwatch in Brighton. Being a programmer for a living is a pretty awesome job, as there is constantly something new to learn. I volunteer at Queen’s Park Primary School in Brighton, I’ve been doing it since last September so have a full year of Code Club under my belt.

Outside of my work, I go to a local JavaScript meetup called Async. Brighton is full of fantastic developers, so it’s great to go along and see what other people are working on and learning about. Although I work in Brighton, I live in Lewes – a town which certainly punches above its weight in terms of activities. I am a member of Lewes Speaker’s Club and the Headstrong debating club, and regularly attend Lewes Skeptics in the Pub.

I’m of the firm conviction that teachers do one of the most important jobs in society. I also happen to love my job, and would very much like to see more people discover the joy of coding. So, when I heard about Code Club, I figured it would be a great way to give something back to the education system, and to encourage kids to learn about programming at the same time.

The Code Club website was great at giving clear instructions on how to set up a club. Registering was super simple, and the DBS check was surprisingly easy through the STEM Ambassadors initiative. I actually ended up teaming up with another volunteer (the inimitable Josh Emerson) to teach a bigger class at Queen’s Park primary; he was great at liaising with the wonderful teacher at the school in advance. My employers were also very supportive and encouraging when it came to Code Club, something I’m very grateful for!

Code Club has been the first time I’ve spent much time with kids since I was one myself. It was a constant learning experience working with them, they really keep you on your toes! I was amazed at how quickly the kids pick up concepts, how much energy and enthusiasm they bring to the club, and how much imagination as well! Some took more to it than others, so I found it was important to let everybody progress at their own pace. They also usually wished to make a project their own, and we actively encouraged personalising their own sprites or game mechanics.

The projects Code Club provide have been invaluable; programming has a famously steep learning curve and even with the friendly interface that Scratch provides, it is still a daunting prospect to teach concepts like variables and loops to 9 year olds. Thankfully, the projects walk you through every step of the way. I particularly liked how the projects had ‘extra steps’ for the kids that raced ahead.

If you’re thinking of volunteering I encourage you to put the ball in motion. Check out the website, look for a school, ask your boss (if you have one). Start today, you won’t regret it!

If you would like to tell us your volunteer story then contact Laura, our Growth Captain: laura@codeclub.org.uk