Student Volunteers: Giving back to your community with Code Club

Code Club are looking for student volunteers who would like to share their skills and spare time to help inspire the next generation of digital makers!

If you haven’t already heard of us, Code Clubs are weekly coding sessions for children aged 9-11, which take place in schools, community centres and libraries across the UK (and in countries around the world!).

We have some amazing student volunteers who have been helping to run Code Clubs in their local communities. This includes Kirsty Hayward, who volunteers as part of Success4All, an educational charity in Newcastle that helps children, young people and families through their learning hubs.

Read on to learn more about Kirsty’s experience volunteering with Code Club – perhaps it could inspire you to start your own Code Club as well!img_7280

What inspired you to volunteer for Code Club?

When I arrived in Newcastle for my undergraduate degree, I was keen to find a good volunteering opportunity to give something back to my new local community. Through Newcastle University’s Go Volunteer Scheme, I contacted Success4All and got involved volunteering as a tutor in STEM subjects in S4A’s Learning Hubs. During the year, S4A’s Code Club needed some extra help and I began learning more about Code Club and helping out. In September 2015, I took overmanaging S4A’s Code Clubs; as well as growing the number of clubs, volunteers and outreach events that Success4All works with. When I started volunteering, I recognised Scratch and some HTML coding from my own secondary school ICT education back in 2008, which I enjoyed greatly, but I am no tech expert!

robot-004-copyTell us as a bit about your Code Club

Currently I host 4 Code Clubs across Newcastle upon Tyne with a team of 5 volunteers. Last year, we reached over 40 children between all of our Code Clubs with around 10 children at each club. The children have worked through many of the Scratch projects and enjoy making many of their own from their incredible imaginations! We have also worked through some of the HTML/CSS and Python projects using Trinket. Our Code Clubs have been able to invest in a few Lego robots and received several BBC micro:bits from Code Club, so we have been learning how to code with these extra gadgets. The Lego robots and micro:bits are especially popular in the Code Clubs and definitely engage the children to think outside the screen and how things work in the real world.

What would you say are the benefits of volunteering for Code Club?

Code Club develops a fantastic little community amongst the children, helping them learn a new skill, of which they become very proud. Many of the children delight in sharing what they have learnt with each other, building friendships between children who may not usually talk to each other. They love becoming experts in Scratch and returning to their curriculum ICT lessons brimming with all their new tips and tricks to share with the rest of their peers. It is incredible to know you have created this environment for children to be inspired by their own work and the code behind their favourite games and websites. Running a Code Club tests many of your interpersonal, teaching and managerial skills, and gives you a fantastic array of examples of using your skill set for job interviews and CVs.

Why is Code Club important to you?

The Code Clubs I run are in areas of Newcastle marked by poor educational achievement. Working with a group of children who may have a negative relationship with learning and education, it becomes all the more rewarding when the children become inspired by something they have discovered in Code Club and develop a renewed enjoyment of learning new skills. In our Code Clubs, we embrace the chaos and take a friendly self-directed approach to learning, encouraging the children to create their own questions and experiment with the possibilities of coding and the depths of their imaginations. This is an aspect of our Code Clubs that I am really proud of. I hope Code Club helps the children to think differently about learning and enables them to develop transferable skills that they can use to improve their education in school and into the future.

How does volunteering fit into your schedule?

robot-003-copyThe Code Clubs I run all take place after school in the evenings. Currently, as a full time university student, my schedule is relatively flexible, so it works for me to volunteer for Code Club around it. On a typical Code Club day, I will travel to the club straight after university, compensating for the study hours spent at Code Club by taking 1-2 hours out of my weekend or evening.

What has been your best ‘Code Club moment’?

There have been so many Code Club moments where I have been very proud of the coders, by their achievements and behaviour towards each other. I was particularly proud of one child, who is normally quite quiet and focused on his own work, who began sharing tips to help others with their Scratch projects.

How Universities can support student volunteering with Code Club

The staff and students at Wolverhampton University started a Code Club in November 2015 to help children in the local community learn coding skills after-school.  They have created a fantastic and fun Code Club, inspiring the next generation of coders.

Mark Bircumshaw, Education Advisor for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University, told us how the club at Wolverhampton Children’s Library got off the ground.

“We registered 3 students and one member of staff as volunteers with Code Club, and started off with some taster sessions during the October half term. We then began our first Code Club on Monday evenings once the school term began. The Children’s Library has 12 computers and to accommodate all those interested we ended up doubling up children to work in pairs. The space is very limited but we managed to create a fun, busy atmosphere each Monday.”wonderbot

They began the club by using Code Club’s Scratch projects, trying out a different project each week. “The first few weeks were as much about us learning alongside the children as they were about running a club in the community and working in collaboration with the Library.” Mark said, “The Library staff were very helpful, assisting with advertising the club via posters in the library, and gathering the children’s details and parental permissions.”

The demand continued to outgrow the computers and the space available, so they began running two back-to-back sessions after the Christmas break. The first group was for follow on students and the second for newcomers.

Kevin and Callam were two of the computing students that helped to lead the Code Cub sessions. Kevin is thrilled with how the club has “grown from strength to strength… this has been by far one of the best teaching environments I have ever been in. All of the students who visited each week were well behaved and were eager to just get on with the task in hand to complete, to the very best of their ability.

Being a member of Code Club  has shown me that people of all walks of life can be interested in programming, from such early ages; for me, as an aspiring Teacher of Computer Science, this is a really amazing thing to witness.”Halo 001

Callam also noted that “Code Club gave me the chance to explore a classroom environment from the perspective of a teacher or an authoritative figure. This has provided me with invaluable experience. Not only has Code Club allowed me to develop a teaching technique, it has also helped me to grow as a person. It has helped to build my confidence and to learn to communicate with others.”


If you would like to find out more about starting a Code Club through your University, Sixth form or Higher Education College, head over to our website: https://www.codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club/volunteers/student-volunteers

Could you be a Code Club student volunteer?

Are you a student looking to boost your digital skills and give back to your local community? Then we want you to become a volunteer for Code Club!

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You don’t need to have any existing computer programming knowledge to start a Code Club. In fact, volunteering with us is a great way to gain new experience which will look great on your CV – and have fun doing it!

But don’t just take our word for it, Chris Jones is a student from Portsmouth University who volunteered with us, read more about his Code Club experience below…


I decided to take part in Code Club as I was looking for something to do alongside my Software Engineering course at university. I felt Code Club was an excellent opportunity to broaden my skills and gain new experiences, while also volunteering in a subject I am familiar with, and feel confident to teach to younger children.

What stood out to me was that Code Club’s projects allow the children to be creative in what they are making, while they are learning new skills.

Starting the club

I started the club in November 2015 with another student volunteer at a local primary school. The club was attended by 30 children in total, who were all keen to do more in programming. The classes we taught ranged from year 3 to year 6, so some pupils had a lot more practice with Scratch than others. Once we realised this, we encouraged the older children to teach their younger peers. This meant that those more experienced were learning how to share their skills by helping others.

Code Club fitted into my schedule easily – I would be at Code Club once a week, for an hour and a half. The timing worked well for me, it ensured that running the club didn’t feel like an inconvenience while also at university trying to meet deadlines. The school I volunteered at was also considerate of us being at university, and were aware that we would need to stop for exam period and had no problem with it.

The benefits of Code Club

Code Club is an excellent way to build programming skills for children from a young age, giving them the opportunity to build other skills through programming. By learning through play and experimentation in an informal environment after-school, children begin to think differently about computers and technology.

Volunteering at the club introduced me to new experiences, which I would not have found in a lecture room. For example, the varying interests of the children meant that I had to work to keep them all interested and involved throughout the club. I wanted to ensure that they left the club feeling that coding was something they wanted to pursue in the future. Code Club also gave me a chance to develop my own skills away from university, and to give more variety in my weekly schedule.

After a couple of months of running the Code Club as a volunteer at the school, one child asked me to look at a piece of code which they had been working on at home, which they had thought of all by themselves. I was happy to look at this and was excited to see what they had done. Then I realised the amount of code that was there: this child, who had started the club as a beginner in coding, had written around 1000 lines of code that were too complex for me to fully assess in the club time!

Interested to get involved? Find out more about starting a Code Club on our website.

If you’re looking to host a Code Club in your school, library or community centre, you can read what it’s like to run a club with help from student volunteers here.