Run a Code Club during your lunch break!

Connor Adams is a software developer at BNP Paribas. Once a week during his lunch break, he runs a Code Club at a primary school near his office in London. Here he tells us why he got involved with Code Club and how volunteering makes him better at his job.

I first encountered Code Club when they had a stall at a technology conference I was attending, and after speaking with someone from Code Club, I was pretty keen to get involved. I’ve always been into computers and technology but not always into coding: I work as a software developer at BNP Paribas but studied maths at uni, so I’ve learned most of my coding skills on the job.

I remember using Logo at school — I enjoyed getting that turtle to draw pretty shapes on the computer. Yet now we can offer children so much more, and we are able to do so at scale, thanks to organisations like Code Club. I wish Code Club had been around when I was at school!

connor-blogConnor at his club (left) and with Dave and Sarah from Team Code Club, helping out at a Coolest Projects showcase event (right). 

I have been running a Code Club for over two years now. To start off with I was nervous, but I soon found my feet. I really enjoy my time there and usually leave feeling energised, which is not the case after lunch every day!

Running the Code Club at lunchtime is really convenient for me. It’s easy for me to get away from my desk, but I think it works well for the kids too. It makes the session a bit shorter than an hour, around 45 minutes, but it’s enough time for the kids to get stuck into some code and complete a short project or two.

Code Club has been a great experience for my personal development, so it’s more than just the fuzzy good-feeling stuff of volunteering: it allows me to practice my public speaking, teaching, and mentoring skills. They say “If you can’t do, teach”, but if you can’t teach something well, do you really understand it?

I’ve also learned about interacting with children, which is a skill in itself. Kids can be very refreshing, they have lots of energy and ideas. I think that running a Code Club is a worthwhile endeavour, and it’s also great fun!

Do something worthwhile with your lunch break

Do you have a spare hour per week that you could spend inspiring children to code while working on your personal development? Then sign up to volunteer with Code Club at www.codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club/volunteers!

From China to Mexico and beyond: Code Club Growth Leaders

At Code Club, we think everyone should have the opportunity to learn to code, no matter who they are or where they come from. James Aslett, International Programme Manager for Code Club, shares the launch of the new Growth Leaders programme, where we are working with other like-minded organisations to make this vision come true.

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Today, 4 out of 5 countries in the world have at least one active Code Club — in indigenous communities in Australia, favelas in Brazil, isolated parts of northern Canada, and thousands of towns and cities in between. That’s amazing! But we want to grow the Code Club network even more, so we can reach our goal of having a club in every community in the world.

This is why we’ve launched a new partnership programme called Growth Leaders so we can collaborate with expert not-for-profit organisations across the globe to bring Code Club to children in their communities.

The Growth Leaders programme

Over the last six years, we’ve spent a lot of time researching the best way to support and grow Code Clubs. We have packaged up all this experience together with lots of engaging resources, and are offering all this to other not-for-profit organisations for free. In return, we ask that these organisations commit to helping grow the Code Club network, upholding our values, and supporting our volunteers to get started.

From Zhejiang to Mexico City

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The organisation Happy Coding was already teaching robotics to young people in high schools in Zhejiang when the team joined our pilot phase of Growth Leaders. They were looking for a way to reach primary school children, most of whom weren’t receiving any formal coding education. With support from Code Club, in just three months they have been able to set up an amazing 17 Code Clubs in public schools!

“I chose Code Club because of its success in many other countries and the opportunity to learn from and interact with non-profits in other countries. Being part of the Growth Leaders network gives me access to great resources that encourage children to code for the first time.” – Xia Tianyan, Founder of Happy Coding

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For Jacaranda, another organisation in the Growth Leader pilot, Code Club works perfectly alongside changes happening in the education system in Mexico. As well as supporting students in schools, Jacaranda has also facilitated summer courses in a public library in Mexico City, including a popular girls-only course.

“The Code Club programme has so far proved to be a great way to get schools, teachers, and students on the road and started and connected with STEAM, making, and twenty-first century learning in a variety of contexts.” – Michael Beckwith, Director of Operations at Jacaranda

Could you become a Growth Leader?

Our Growth Leaders programme is now open to applications from non-profit organisations around the world! If you are part of an organisation that might be interested, find out more on the Growth Leader page on our website.

How North Ayrshire council is making coding accessible to all

Back in May, North Ayrshire Council in Scotland made a pledge to tackle the digital skills gap by providing access to Code Clubs for all learners aged 9–13 by August 2020. Here the team behind the initiative tells us why they think Code Club is important and how they plan to achieve their goal.

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James McNeil is an IT Support Officer at North Ayrshire Council.  His passion for coding made him want to share his knowledge at his daughters’ primary school, and so he started volunteering with Code Club in 2016.

“I had always wanted to do something coding-related at the school, but with work and kids I never had much time to plan content for lessons. Then I discovered Code Club and its fantastic resources! Having this pre-written curriculum made it possible for me to approach my girls’ school and offer to run a club.” – James McNeil

James loved the experience so much that he decided to team up with colleague Michele Laverty, Project Manager in the council’s Transformation Team, to run a Saturday-morning Code Club at their local library. Like James, Michele also runs a club at a nearby primary school.

The ‘Coding the Future’ pledge

As a result of this enthusiasm for Code Club, in November 2017 the council set up a ‘Coding the Future’ project team, recruiting together staff from from Customer and Digital Services, Education and Youth Employment, and Economy and Communities. This team had the aim of expanding and supporting Code Clubs across the authority.

Within a few months, the team’s wider council services pledged to provide access to Code Clubs for all learners aged 9–13 by August 2020. Since then, pilot Code Clubs have been set up across North Ayrshire, with 24 active clubs currently registered in schools, libraries, and community centres.

“Our ‘Coding the Future’ programme is all about improving digital literacy here in North Ayrshire, with the aim of addressing the digital skills gap that exists in this country. There is no better way to improve this than by developing our younger generation and equipping them with the necessary skills.”
– Michele Laverty, Rosslyn Lee, Clare Bethell, and James McNeil, ‘Coding the Future’ project team

Finding volunteers

When looking for volunteers, the project team turned to staff from the three services that signed the ‘Coding the Future’ pledge. So far 30 volunteers have signed up, becoming STEM ambassadors in the process.

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These volunteers are part of a ‘train the trainer’ approach: they support schools and libraries to set up their own clubs, and then taking a step back once the venue staff members feel confident to run the clubs by themselves. Moving forward, the project team is also interested in involving secondary school pupils as volunteers and STEM ambassadors.

Summer Code Camp!

To celebrate the launch of the ‘Coding the Future’ initiative, this July the team decided to run a week-long Summer Code Camp, which gave up to 25 kids per day the chance to learn how to code using Scratch, Spheros, and micro:bits.

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As the location for the camp, the team picked a local primary school that offers free school meals and activities during the summer break, ensuring that the event was accessible for all.

“Over the week, we saw kids who had never used Scratch before use a selection of the fantastic Code Club Scratch projects to design and build their fully functioning games. Along with the coding skills that Code Camp taught the kids, they also learned creative problem-solving, logical reasoning, decomposition, and computational thinking.

It was brilliant to watch their confidence grow over the week and demystify coding, making it something they can control, rather than just interacting with someone else’s creation. Along with their new coding skills, the kids made new friends with a shared passion and shared experiences.”
– Michele Laverty, Rosslyn Lee, Clare Bethell, and James McNeil, ‘Coding the Future’ project team

Help a Code Club in your community

At Code Club we believe that any child, no matter their background, should be able to develop computing skills to prepare themselves for an increasingly digital world.

Join us on our mission by volunteering to help run a Code Club at www.codeclub.org.uk.