Secondary school Code Clubs in Malvern

For the past seven years as a Computing at School (CAS) Lead School, the Computing Faculty at The Chase has been working with primary and secondary schools across Worcestershire to inspire teachers and children to get excited about coding and digital making. John Palmer, Faculty Leader for Computing & Business at The Chase, explains the role Code Club plays for students of both primary and secondary ages.

Code Club and The Chase

One project that The Chase has enthusiastically supported is Code Club, which is supported in Malvern by STEM Ambassadors from local organisations such as Key IQ, borwell, QinetiQ, UTC Aerospace Systens, and Malvern Instruments.

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Malvern now has one of the highest concentrations of Code Clubs in primary schools anywhere in the UK, and the Malvern Code Club community has grown rapidly — there are a large number of volunteers, educators, parents, and young people who make Code Club possible. We have seen how having a club has helped primary schools adapt to the challenges of the new computing curriculum. Moreover, we are starting to see the impact of Code Club in skilling up and enthusing the next generation of students. It has led to a large number of students studying GCSEs in Computer Science at The Chase, and to both staff and students running a range of computer science STEM activities and clubs, which see a huge demand from students.

Code Club for secondary ages

Starting in September, The Chase is one of the first schools in the UK to set up a new secondary school Code Club for students Years 7 and 8 following the official expansion of the Code Club programme.

The Chase Code Club

Jenny Palmer (Y8 student), John Palmer (Faculty Leader for Computing & Business at The Chase), Jacob Walker (Y10), Nick Howden (STEM Ambassador, UTC Aerospace Systems)

Supporting the Chase Secondary Code Club will be STEM Ambassador and Engineer Nick Howden from UTC Aerospace Systems. UTC Aerospace support a number of STEM Activities at The Chase, including a STEM activity day in July for Year 8 students, which included a range of activities involving Spheros and based on coding, engineering, and robotics. Nick says:

“We are delighted to be involved in what is a superb opportunity for students at The Chase. It will give us access to new educational resources, which we hope be interesting and exciting and meet the needs of older club members and more experienced coders. The activities help students develop a wide range of skills in addition to coding, such as teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity, all of which are vital to their future success.”

This will give our students further opportunities to develop skills vital in the 21st century, and we must thank Code Club and UTC Aerospace for their support with this. Chase STEM students really are the next generation of Malvern’s brilliant brains which will ultimately enable the UK to innovate in the global marketplace.

A message from the team at Code Club

We’ve recently extended the Code Club age range to include secondary school ages up to 13, increasing the reach of our support and projects to more students, schools, and volunteers across the world.

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If you’d like to start a Code Club in your school, or dedicate time to volunteering in the UK, check out our website.

Want to find out about Code Clubs across the globe? Head to Code Club International for information on your nearest partner.

Join us at Bett 2017!

Next week brings another opportunity for educators to visit Code Club and the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Bett 2017, the huge annual EdTech event in London. We’ll be at ExCeL London from 25-28 January, and we’ll be running more than 50 workshops and talks over the four days. Whether you’re a school teacher or a community educator, there’s something for you: visit our stand (G460) to discover ways to bring the power of digital making to your classroom and beyond.

BROWSE OUR TALK AND WORKSHOP TIMETABLE

Find us at our STEAM Village stand (G460) to take part in free physical computing and STEAM workshops, as well as talks led by Code Club staff, and members of the Code Club community. The Raspberry Pi Foundation have a huge range of workshops running for all levels of ability, which will give you the opportunity to get hands-on with digital making in a variety of different ways.

Below are some of the Code Club workshops you may be interested in joining:

Date Time Session Name Location
Wednesday 25 January 12:30 How to start a successful Code Club in your school G460
15:30 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
16:45 Computing Playground with Raspberry Pi and Code Club G460
Thursday 26th January 11:45 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
12:30 Adventures in Primary Computing G460
16:15 How to start a successful Code Club in your school G460
Friday 27th January 13:00 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
16:45 Computing Playground with Raspberry Pi and Code Club G460
Saturday 28th January 10:30 Build a Scratch games controller with Code Club G460
12:30 How to start a successful Code Club in your school G460
13:00 Code Club Primer Session HE Summit Space
14:15 Computing Playground with Raspberry Pi and Code Club G460

Additionally, our CEO Philip Colligan will be launching an exciting new free initiative to support educators, live in the Bett Show Arena at 13:25 on Wednesday 25 January. Philip will be joined by a panel of educators who are leading the movement for classroom computing and digital making.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to speak to so many different educators from across the world. It’s really important to us to spend time with all of you face-to-face: we want to hear about the great things you’re doing, answer your questions, and learn about the way you work and the challenges you face so we can improve the things we do. We really do value your feedback enormously, so please don’t hesitate for a moment to come over and ask questions, query something, or just say hi! And if you have questions you’d like to ask us ahead of Bett, just leave us a comment below.

See you next week!

Volunteer stories: Nick Peet

Are you a teacher keen to tackle the challenges of the computing curriculum? Running or hosting a Code Club is a great way to boost your own confidence, and to help give your pupils more opportunities to get excited about coding and digital making.

We heard from Nick Peet, a teacher in Portsmouth who, with some help from students at Portsmouth University, began running a Code Club in his school. Find out more about his experiences as a Code Club host below…


When we discovered that the new National Curriculum required primary children to learn Computing, rather than just how to use ICT, we realised that the school had a huge gap in the subject knowledge required to teach this new curriculum.  I attended several meetings of panicked ICT managers in the Portsmouth area and all of us agreed that, although we were very excited by the changes in the curriculum, there would be huge difficulty in training hard pressed primary teachers to learn the new skills required to deliver the new subject matter.  In a sudden flash of divine inspiration, I realised that it would be much easier to identify pupils who were really interested in the subject and teach them so that they could support their teachers and peers with the new curriculum.  So in 2014 we started the Craneswater Computing club.

laptopAlthough in a previous life, I had worked as a programmer and systems designer, it was in a very different, pre-internet world of main frames, punch tape, Assembler and machine code languages – not very relevant to the requirements of the current curriculum.  I had never even heard of Scratch!  So I bought a book, and 30 pupils and I started to work through the projects in it together.

This worked well and the club was very popular – we were able to develop the coding champions we needed to get the new curriculum up and running.  However, it became very time consuming, particularly trying to develop new projects and challenges for the (by now very competent) children.

Fortunately Portsmouth University got in touch with the school and told us they were keen to place volunteers who would run a Code Club. This sounded like a good idea and so we signed up – anything to reduce a teacher’s work load!  We negotiated with the university volunteers so that we would keep a 30 pupil code club (rather larger than normal) and also include children from Years 3 and 4 (slightly younger than normal).  This was agreed to and the new Code Club started in October 2015.

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The club has been a huge success with the children.  They really enjoyed having the undergraduates from the university teaching them.  We were incredibly lucky in our two volunteers who were really conscientious and competent and developed excellent relationships with the children (Thanks Chris and Dale!).  They ran the club entirely on their own and all I had to do was download and print the projects and be physically around the Computer suite just in case – I don’t think I was really needed during the entire year.

The other major benefit from having a registered Code Club in school has been the access to the resources on the Code Club website.  All the projects are well thought-out and very engaging for the children.  There is also lots of scope for the more able children to extend the projects and develop their own add-ons and variants.  The club itself has concentrated on the Scratch projects, but I have borrowed ideas and code from the HTML & CSS resources, to develop a new curriculum unit, again saving me a huge amount of time.  I am considering running an advanced level Code Club next year where the children will tackle the Python projects.

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I think learning to Code is a wonderful opportunity for children.  It is highly creative and teaches resilience – almost nobody’s code works as intended first time.  It also helps to develop logical thinking, and encourages teamwork and co-operation.

Lots of people have written lots of articles about why children should learn to code.  Steve Jobs himself said, “Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”  Even more than this, children should have the opportunity to code because it is fun! I’d encourage anybody thinking about setting up a Code Club to go for it. Signing up online is straightforward  and setting up and running a club with their support is easy.  

It is also incredibly rewarding when pupils share their highly polished and technically challenging projects.  Last term a Year 5 pupil said to me, “Mr Peet, I have finally figured out how to get online multi-player games to work using Scratch!”  I have not yet checked to find out whether he has, but I was seriously impressed that he was thinking about the problem in the first place!  


Interested in starting a Code Club? Find out more at www.codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club