How an employee volunteering scheme is inspiring the next generation to code

Since last autumn, ten volunteers from the Tesco Head Office in Hertfordshire have been supporting children aged 7–9 years at the Code Club running in Welwyn St Mary’s C of E Primary School. Find out the impact volunteering is having on them and the club members.

  Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a female club member.
Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a young club member

What inspired Tesco volunteers to give their time

So why did these Tesco employees get involved in Code Club as part of their company’s employee volunteering scheme?

The first time I heard about Code Club was when I got an email from a colleague. I felt like it would be a good chance for me to teach some of my coding and logical thinking skills to the kids. I wish I had such a club in my school back then, that would have helped me a lot to develop my coding skills and better prepare me to become a software developer for my career.

– Julia Wong, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

[What motivates me is the] enthusiasm of the children and knowing that we’re enabling them with the skills and experience to have a brighter future. It’s particularly rewarding to see so many girls taking part in Code Club, and for them to see the opportunities that STEM subjects and careers might offer them when they are older.

– Tina Stevens, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting female club member with a project.
Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a young member with a project

Seeing how the kids improve

Jessica Shaffner shares how she has seen the children at the Code Club develop each week:  

It’s been great to see those who were a little nervous at first really take ownership of their work and start to experiment with more complex elements week by week. There are a few who were anxious about working alone, to begin with, who now help other children who are less advanced.

– Jessica Shaffner, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Sam Carr is a software developer at Tesco and has been volunteering at the Code Club since 2018:

It’s been wonderful to see individuals who were not as focused at the beginning now working on Scratch projects at home and I’m really proud to show what they’ve done.

– Sam Carr, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Miles Bardon, another Tesco software engineer, has been a Code Club volunteer since January 2019:

Many of them have become confident in using Scratch, to the point where they go home and make their own games, or can help their friends with their problems. They take care of their personal development, relying on us as volunteers to push them in the right direction when they get really stuck.

– Miles Bardon, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Positive impact on the volunteers

Volunteering is also rewarding because it offers many personal opportunities, from sharing skills and experiences to developing your own confidence, while giving something back to the local community.

Although we are volunteering to help the children learn to code, they are also helping us to improve skills that we use day-to-day in the office, such as handling questions and thinking on our feet.

– Tina Stevens, Code Club volunteer from Tesco

Code Club volunteer from Tesco  supporting male club member with Scratch project.
Code Club volunteer from Tesco supporting a club member

Whether you’re an experienced coder or an absolute beginner, volunteering at your local Code Club is a great way to expand your digital skills. Find out how you or your company can get involved by visiting our website.

National Volunteers’ Week: say hello to our volunteers Jeff and Lisa

This week marks National Volunteers’ Week in the UK, and we are celebrating the 18,000 volunteers across the globe who give their time each week to help inspire the next generation to code.

Allow us to introduce you to two of our volunteers in the UK: Jeff, who has been a Code Club volunteer for six years, and Lisa, who started her Code Club because the children she taught wanted to learn more about coding outside of the classroom.  

Meet Jeff

Jeff is a Code Club volunteer at a Code Club in Salisbury who has been volunteering with us for over six years! Jeff became interested in computers when he himself was a child:

I started my computing journey aged 12, with the home computer revolution of the 1980s. In those days, it was expected that you would write your own programs, and we were enthused by stories of teenagers becoming millionaires after creating popular games!

Jeff had two reasons for deciding to give his time to support Code Club:

I was taking a career break, and Code Club was a way for me to stay in touch with the essentials of my industry, especially as I’d moved away from programming. Also, I’d recently moved to the area, and volunteering was a way to get involved with the local community.

As he is one of our longest-standing volunteers, we asked Jeff what motivates him to keep on supporting Code Club and our vision to give every child the skills, confidence, and opportunity to change their world.

It’s nice to see the children developing their skills and especially to be able to encourage and mentor the ones who really ‘get it’. Our club has been running long enough that we’ve had many children returning year after year, and even some who have followed their older brothers or sisters through the club.

For everyone who has just started on their volunteer journey with Code Club, Jeff has this advice:

Different children enjoy different aspects of the projects, and you need to give them a bit of space to explore this, whilst also keeping them moving ahead on the overall task. We’re not trying to turn them all into programmers but to give them an understanding and a flavour of what programming is.

Say hi to Lisa

Lisa teaches Computing to Year 1–6 students at the Arches Community Primary School in Chester.

A lot of the children Lisa taught wanted to do more coding outside of the classroom. While she attended Picademy, Raspberry Pi’s professional development programme, she found a great way to give her students that opportunity: setting up a Code Club at her school!

At Lisa’s Code Club, three quarters of the participants are girls, and all her learners support each other in the sessions:

I love seeing the relationships the members build. They all go to the same school, but the Code Club members are like a little family. As a volunteer, I love watching their creativity, resilience, and collaboration blossom — all the aspects of computational thinking that underpin everything we do in life.

While volunteering, you sometimes come across club members who are nervous or unsure whether they can code. Lisa gives this advice to all her club members:

We love hearing about the moments when you as volunteers see the difference you are making to young lives. One of Lisa’s favourite moments is this:

I taught a girl in Year 5 who cried every time I said we were going to do coding. She really struggled with the concepts and thought this was because she’s a girl. I reminded her that I am a girl, and I can code. I invited her to Code Club and paired her up with a more confident girl. Now she’s in Year 6 and mentors new starters to our club! She is an incredibly talented programmer and is so creative.

If you are one of the 18,000 people who support Code Club each week, we want to say an enormous THANK YOU to you!

Jeff and Lisa support young learners, and so can you!

Could you give one hour a week to inspire the next generation to code, like Jeff and Lisa do? Then sign up and become a Code Club volunteer today.

From a coding beginner to running a successful Code Club

Nina was an absolute beginner to coding and had no experience of working with children, but now she runs a Code Club from the Raspberry Pi Foundation office in Cambridge twice a month, in partnership with the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign. Nina’s story is a great example of how anyone can set up and run a Code Club.

Nina’s motivation to set up a Code Club

Nina works for the Raspberry Pi Foundation as the Translation Community Manager. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign. She was keen to bring both organisations together, giving new opportunities to children and families who have been resettled in Cambridge.  


I work for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Seeing the amazing work we do as an organisation inspired me to take personal responsibility for giving children the opportunity to experience coding and technology.
 
– Nina Szymor, Code Club volunteer

Nina Szymor supporting a member of her Code Club

You don’t need to be a coding genius

At Code Club, we often say that you don’t have to be a coding genius to set up a Code Club, and Nina is a great example of this. With no background in coding or working with children, she used the resources Code Club offers to gain the confidence to set up a club.


I don’t have a technical background or experience working with kids; I needed some support and guidance. Code Club is perfect for people like me, as all the resources are handed to you, and you are guided by the Code Club team.
 
– Nina Szymor, Code Club volunteer

She goes on to say:


For each session, I have to go through the project we will be working on so that I can guide the children and help them when they struggle, so I’m learning the same programming concepts as they are. I also noticed that I started analysing my teaching methods to try and find better ways. It’s definitely a big challenge, and I love it!

The group has made great progress

The club launched in September 2018, with the support of a group of fantastic volunteers. At the start, some of the children who attended were unable to use a mouse. Now, the children have successfully completed Module 1 of Scratch, creating some great games and animations!   

Recently, new members joined who were unable to speak English. To help with the language barrier, one girl who had attended from the beginning stepped in and started to translate, explaining to new members how to use Scratch and the project resources.


It was really great to see how confident she was and how easy it was for her to teach others what she had already learned. I think it was really empowering for her, and it was great for us to see how she has developed.
 
– Nina Szymor
, Code Club volunteer

A reason to celebrate

After the first term, to acknowledge the club finishing Module 1 of Scratch, Nina arranged a celebration to recognise the children’s hard work and achievements. Code Club certificates were printed off and handed out and parents were invited to see what their children had been working on.


The parents brought chocolates and biscuits, there was lots of laughter and happiness at receiving certificates, and generally such a lovely and friendly atmosphere. It was one of my best moments of 2018.
 
– Nina Szymor,
Code Club volunteer

Why Nina loves volunteering


I love seeing the pure joy on children’s faces when they make something work, and knowing that I may have contributed to them realising that computers and coding are for everyone — something I didn’t have as a child.
 
– Nina Szymor,
Code Club volunteer

Has Nina’s story inspired you to volunteer at a Code Club? Take a look at our website and see how you can get involved. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter too.