A man and a boy in front of a computer

T.E.D., the Talk Enabled Development project

At Code Club, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn to code. So when we heard about a club that had found a new and unique way to support a blind child’s coding, Katharine Childs, Regional Coordinator for the East Midlands, went along to find out more.

Young students in a computer lab

Introducing Ted

I was welcomed to Farnsfield St Michael’s C of E Primary VA School in Nottinghamshire by teacher Rob Fry and volunteer Steve Barton. Steve is a software developer, and he set up the club earlier this year to run once a week for a group of around 30 Year 3 and 4 students. One of these children is eight-year-old Ted, who is visually impaired. Initially, Rob used a BigTrak to do physical programming with Ted, but Rob and Steve wanted to find a way to help Ted to use Scratch, the programming environment used in many Code Club projects. Steve said:

I was keen to get Ted sat in front of a computer creating his own imaginative projects that he could share with the club, just as the other kids were doing.

Steve started by researching other coding tools for children with visual impairments, but he couldn’t quite find what he was looking for. Undaunted, he decided to write his own system.

EXTERNAL - Farnsfield St Michaels Nov 2017

Steve and Ted

Introducing T.E.D.

Steve explained:

I started tinkering with Scratch to see if I could leverage its excellent sound library along with some of the key code categories to give Ted that real coding experience. [The tool] had to use the keyboard as little as possible — just the arrow keys to navigate and the space bar to select an option. And of course, it had to have audible prompts, so I set to recording my own voice for that. Ted likes Star Wars and Thunderbirds, so I downloaded some sound bites for him to use in his projects.

The result is T.E.D., the Talk Enabled Development project, which I saw in action during my visit. Ted told me that he really likes coding and would miss being able to take part in Code Club with the other children if he didn’t have T.E.D. to use.

You can try the Scratch project for yourself here. To Steve, T.E.D. is very much a work in progress, and he listens carefully to Ted’s feedback about bugs and features. Next on Steve’s list is to improve the way that projects are saved.

Steve and Rob do everything they can to ensure that Ted is included in every aspect of the club. At the end of last term, every child was presented with a Code Club certificate, and Steve got Ted’s translated into Braille.

The Code Club community

We’d like to congratulate Steve on being an outstanding volunteer who has demonstrated a fantastic commitment to the ethos of Code Club being open to everyone. We welcome everyone to share their own stories with us via our social media channels and with their Regional Coordinators.

If you’d like to start a Code Club in your local community, host a club at your premises or school, or volunteer at an existing club, you can find information on this on the Code Club website. Prospective volunteers, interested parents, and educators are welcome to join us at our free regional meetups — find an event near you here. You can also enrol in our free online training course Prepare to run a Code Club, which will help you build your skills and gain the confidence to start your own club.

Code Club festive competition: we have a winner!

In October, we launched our first-ever competition exclusively for active Code Clubs. In keeping with the season, the challenge was to code a festive message using one of two Code Club projects as a starting point.

CCUKF

Incredible entries

We were super excited when the submissions started rolling in, and all in all we received more than 500 from clubs all across the UK.

After the competition closed, the Code Club judges had a wonderful time looking at all your entries, which were creative, funny, and well thought-out.

The winners

It was tough choosing a winner from among all the fantastic festive messages we received, but after much deliberation, we are pleased to announce that the winner is Jake, aged 9, from Henry Cavendish Primary School!

Congratulations to Jake and the whole Henry Cavendish Primary School Code Club! The judges loved the use of sprites, animation, and colour in Jake’s entry. Jake says:

I’m very happy to have won — Code Club is my favourite part of the week.

Club leader Phil Brayshaw adds:

We’d like to say how proud we are of how far Jake and the other kids have progressed in just a few months. They’re so creative and resourceful, and always helpful to each other.

The whole club will receive prizes, and we will send out the winning entry as the official Code Club end-of-year festive message.

Highly Commended

It really was too hard to choose just one entry, so we’d like to recognise three other entries with a mention in the Highly Commended category:

 

 

  • Charlotte, aged 8, from Weetwood Primary School Code Club, whose piano-playing penguin got us in a festive mood

 

Coming soon

If your club members weren’t able to take part this time, don’t worry: we’ll have more competitions, available exclusively for active clubs, coming up soon! If you need help with getting your club activated so you can take part next time, drop us a line at support@codeclub.org.uk.

Free online course: prepare to run a Code Club

On 20 November, Code Club will be launching a brand-new free online course called Prepare to Run a Code Club on FutureLearn. Join it, and in just a few hours you will learn the skills and gain the confidence you need to start up a Code Club.

Sarah Sheerman-Chase, Participation Manager for Code Club UK, tells you more.

Over the last year, the team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation has created three free courses on the FutureLearn platform, and I am very excited that Prepare to Run a Code Club is the fourth!

FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a digital education platform which offers a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. It uses interactive formats and encourages learners to connect with each other through comments and discussions.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 15.34.31

Therefore, it made perfect sense to me to offer Prepare to Run a Code Club as a free course on their site, giving anyone who wants to start a club practical, hands-on advice on how to do it.

Prepare to Run a Code Club

The course is spread over three weeks, and you can join it at any point. Each weekly module takes approximately an hour to complete.

Week 1 kicks off with advice on how to prepare to start a Code Club, for example which hardware and software are needed. Week 2 focusses on how to deliver Code Club sessions, with practical tips on helping young people learn and an easy taster coding project to try out. In the final week, the course looks at interesting ideas to enrich and extend club sessions.

Each week features suggestions and insights from experienced volunteers and teachers, as well as articles about everything necessary for setting up and running a Code Club.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 15.34.26

The course is not a requirement for becoming a Code Club volunteer, but I hope that lots of volunteers will take advantage of the tips and information offered in it, and that they will also use this opportunity to connect with other volunteers through discussions on the site.

If they wish, learners can choose to purchase a certificate at the end of the course, but this is completely optional and not necessary for volunteering with Code Club.

As part of the course launch, we’re waving a fond farewell to the online training that was previously part of signing up to volunteer, so now it’s even easier and quicker for you to get registered!

Get started

The first course run starts on 20 November — sign up now! Don’t worry if you can’t join this time, as the course will be running throughout the year.

Do you have questions? Then check out our training FAQs.