Run a Code Club in your local Community Centre

Code Club’s flexible model means that volunteers can run clubs in a variety of different venues. We have a growing number of Code Clubs being run in community centres, and so we wanted to profile one of these clubs.

Andrew McKirdy works at CHESS community centre in Nuneaton, where he hosts a weekly Code Club (which is also part of our Star Clubs network). We found out about his experiences, and how easy and rewarding hosting a club can be…

Why did your venue start a Code Club?robot-015

I wanted to start a Code Club at the CHESS Centre to offer young people from a disadvantaged area of Nuneaton the opportunity to take part in a computer programming class. Code Club is perfect to help young people learn about Computing in a fun and accessible way.

Tell us as a bit about your Code Club.

CHESS Centre Code Club launched in April 2016. We run a session every Wednesday at the CHESS Centre in Nuneaton, which is currently attended by 22 children. We are about to launch two further clubs at Camp Hill Primary and St Annes RC Primary schools in Nuneaton.

What would you say are the benefits of hosting a Code Club at your venue?

The best thing about hosting a Code Club is watching the children learn new skills and listening to their experiences of learning to code. It’s a joy to be a part of their development and watching them become more skilled.

How do you work with/ support the volunteers who run the club?

I monitor and guide the volunteers who help me run the Code Club. I set up the classes and allow the volunteers to focus on the young people in the session. I provide all admin, refreshments and so on, which allows the volunteers the freedomchess-centre to focus on guiding the children through the projects for each session.

What has been your best ‘Code Club moment’?

One of the children came to me recently and said,  “I really look forward to coming to Code Club. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Another child in the club loves to show what he has accomplished, he is a very shy lad but coding brings him out of his shell.

Code Club is a truly rewarding experience, and I would recommend it to anyone!

You can visit the CHESS Centre’s Code Club to see first hand how amazing the club is, just head to our website for further details. Want to start your own club? Sign up to volunteer or host a club today!

Your Feedback Matters

In January we sent out a survey to all Code Club volunteers past and present, and we were really grateful that 688 of you took the time to fill it in. Thanks!

The purpose of the survey was to find out how we could improve and make our valued volunteers as happy as they could be with our service.

20% of you who filled in the survey told us that you were no longer running a Code Club, so we asked why and this is what you told us:Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.17.19

The majority said it was a simple matter of not having time anymore, or of your circumstances changing – life happens! However, we thought more about this and agreed it would be good if we had some clearer steps to take if your circumstances do change. We’re working on a pack of resources to make it easy for you and the venue to find someone else to take over the club so the children can still attend.

15% of you said you didn’t get enough support from Code Club. We’re pleased as punch that the figure was so low, but we’d love to get that as close to 0% as humanly possible, so we’re going to look at more ways we can help.

For starters, we have a new Community Support Assistant starting in April, whose main focus will be to answer any questions you may have and solve any difficulties as quickly as possible.

We also asked, if you had stopped running a Code Club, if there was anything we could have done to persuade you to stay, and this was the response:

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As you can see, you were keen to get more support in the local area and to have more events to connect with other volunteers.

Well, the good news is we are already making plans to help with this.

From April all regions will have a Coordinator working at least three days a week so they will be on hand to support you and run more events too. We’ll also continue to introduce more online events that everyone can join, like our monthly Twitter Chat.

Many of you said you were keen to get involved in competitions, so we will aim to introduce simple and fun competitions for the year ahead. We will also continue to promote Raspberry Pi competitions and develop special projects to increase the variety of activities you have available for your clubs.

We noted that some of you thought we could improve our communications and that volunteers needed more recognition. Both of these things are super important to us, so we’ll be coming up with lots of ways to address this.

Writing blogs responding to feedback is just one thing we are going to start doing more regularly, and we are also making sure that we have better communications specific to your local area with dedicated Twitter accounts and newsletters.

Finally, we can never thank Code Club volunteers enough for their dedication and commitment. Without you, there is no Code Club. So, thanks a million!

Feedback to give? We want to hear it! Drop us a line at hello@codeclub.org.uk

Announcing our new partner: Tech North

Today we are excited to make the announcement that Tech North has joined Code Club as a Supporting Partner for 2016, hooray!

Tech North is a government-funded initiative whose mission is to accelerate the development of the North’s digital economy. Their team is particularly focused on the seven cities of Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland. They joined us this week at a Code Club being run by a group of volunteers at Liverpool’s Central Library to launch the partnership.

Volunteer Mark Sabino with children at the Liverpool Central Library club

Volunteer Chris Huffee with children at the Liverpool Central Library club {credit: Tech North]

We’re thrilled that Tech North will be working with us to increase the number of children becoming excited about digital making, as well as encouraging more businesses to get involved in their community by running Code Clubs

Herb Kim, Executive Chairman of Tech North explained: “The future success of the Northern digital economy is reliant upon skills and access to talent…This partnership will future proof the boom in digital industry by fostering a pipeline of tech talent.”

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Councillors Gary Millar, Jim Noakes and Natwest’s Heather Waters join the Code Club and Tech North teams at the Code Club in Liverpool’s Central Library [credit: Tech North]

One of the Liverpool library club’s volunteers, Zarino Zappia, said: “It would be fantastic if the new partnership between Tech North and Code Club results in more public clubs like ours popping up in libraries and public venues all over Merseyside.”

We’re looking forward to working with Tech North over the next year and thank them for choosing Code Club as a partner. To find out more about their work, you can visit their website here.

You can see what happened on the day in this great video from Tech North: