Innovative project inspires Brighton students to volunteer

In 2018, we launched a pilot project in Brighton with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College to recruit students as Code Club volunteers. Four students from the college worked with the City Academy Whitehawk, a local primary school, to set up and run a Code Club — a valuable, exciting, and innovative opportunity for them!

The starting point

Dan Powell, Code Club Programme Manager, and Anna Pearson, Code Club Regional Coordinator for Yorkshire and the North East, initiated the project. The starting point was to find a college that was keen to get involved.

Dan met Emma Harrington, Curriculum Manager for Creative Industries at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, at the Brighton Science Festival. Emma was excited about the opportunity this pilot would offer her students, and so the college was found!

‘’I wanted our students to experience the breadth of opportunities within the digital careers landscape. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for our students to be able to work with Code Club and offer school children the chance to tap into essential IT and digital skills that the future workforce requires.”

– Emma Harrington, Curriculum Manager for Creative Industries at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College

Recruiting student volunteers

To start recruiting student volunteers to run a Code Club, Dan and Anna developed a step-by-step guide for the college. This resource provided guidance for the lecturer on volunteer recruitment and training. For the students, the resource included all the information they needed to set up and run a 12-week club.

Emma used this guide to recruit four student volunteers who would set up and run a Code Club at City Academy Whitehawk.

‘’I felt that it was important for us to recruit the ‘right’ candidates for the role of student Code Club facilitator. The application and interview process outlined in the guide allowed us to review the candidate’s suitability for the role in order to ensure that students interests and goals were matched to our outcomes.”  

– Emma Harrington, Curriculum Manager for Creative Industries at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College

Finding a primary school to collaborate with  

Emma reached out to the City Academy Whitehawk, a local primary school in Brighton, and arranged a preliminary meeting to talk through the proposed pilot idea. This meeting was followed up with the student volunteers and the primary school staff to finalise the details.

How does Code Club work at City Academy Whitehawk?

The Code Club runs weekly during term time and is attended by eight children from Years 4, 5, and 6. The student volunteers from Greater Brighton Metropolitan College are supported by members of staff from the academy.

With guidance from the student volunteers, the children are working through the Code Club Scratch projects and creating their own games and animations with code.

Student volunteer Sydney shares her experience of taking part in the programme:

“I liked working with the kids, they were enthusiastic about coding and the projects were very simple for them to follow and complete. And they were able to ask us questions when they struggled.”

– Sydney Lichauco, Brighton MET Student and Code Club volunteer

What’s next for Greater Brighton MET College?

‘’I would like to continue to develop further links by offering the school children opportunities to be involved in digital tasters here at Brighton MET College.

Every digital college should incorporate this scheme into their programme! This provides real work experience for our students, not just centred on games design, but to develop related skills relevant to the industry. It enables students to pass on technical skills, as well as to develop teaching and planning skills, and to gain further invaluable experience of teamwork. It also reinforces the core professional skills that we teach and nurture here at Brighton MET.”

– Emma Harrington, Curriculum Manager for Creative Industries at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College

If you work within a college and are interested in setting up a student-led Code Club, reach out to us at support@codeclub.org.

Students! We need you!

Are you a student keen to share your skills and spare time to help inspire the next generation? Then we want you to become a volunteer for Code Club!

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!).

Whether you already have computer programming knowledge, or you’re keen to learn coding for yourself, volunteering with us is a great way to expand your skillset – and have fun doing it!

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Student volunteers who have already got started running clubs have this to say:

“I really enjoy being part of Code Club because I get the opportunity to share my knowledge with others. I didn’t know any HTML before I started running my club, so I actually got to teach myself something useful as well! As a busy student, volunteering with a club gives you the chance to leave work aside for a moment, and work on your communication skills, patience and social engagement.”
– Abbas Tutcuoglu, Imperial University. Read more from Abbas here.

“As a Computer Science student, running a Code Club has been a great opportunity to inspire kids and see how great coding truly is.”
– Shalom Ayidu

“As someone who particularly enjoys coding, I relished the opportunity to get students involved and interested in coding and Code Club presented the perfect way to do this.”
– Zak Batinica, NUCATS

Increasingly, employers are looking for graduates who can help plug a growing digital skills gap – in 2013, a report by O2 revealed that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017. Volunteering for Code Club, developing your knowledge of coding and computational thinking, can therefore offer a massive boost to your CV.

Employers are also keen to see how students have spent their spare time whilst at university, and volunteering is a really great way to show that you are engaged in giving back to the local community, and  show passion and dedication.

Sean Price, Managing Director of iBox-Security Ltd, is just one of those employers who sees the benefits that volunteering and running a Code Club can bring:

“Being both a business owner and Code Club volunteer running a weekend club in Derby, it’s a great way to give back and help develop the next generation of computer enthusiasts. Volunteering is great for the community at large and it also looks great on your CV. Being able to spend an hour a week with young children who are passionate about computers is a fantastic thing and showing them new skills to develop their future is an absolute pleasure each week.”

So… think you could be a volunteer with Code Club this semester? Visit the Code Club website or check out our volunteer job role to see what’s involved in running a Code Club.

Volunteers Week: Meet one of our student volunteers…

Continuing our Volunteers Week blog series, we hear from Abbas Tutcuoglu, an Aeronautical Engineering student from Imperial University, who runs a Code Club in London. Abbas filled us in about what inspired him to get involved:


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Where I grew up in Germany, I experienced the uneven chances in education based on different financial backgrounds from a very early age. I felt that many of my friends who ended up in Hauptschule (secondary school with lowest future job prospects) actually had the potential to make it to Gymnasium (secondary school with highest job prospects), but simply haven’t received the necessary support during their time in primary school.

Often, this is because both parents have to work and don’t understand the local school system, which makes it difficult for them to provide any useful help to their children. In other cases, they underestimate the myriad opportunities that a good education can provide.

I therefore got involved with Code Club because I felt that sharing my own knowledge might help other disadvantaged students to receive the support that some of my peers growing up lacked, and it might help grant them equal chances of success in their future.

I really enjoy being part of Code Club because I get the opportunity to share my knowledge with others. I didn’t know any HTML before I started running my club, so I actually got to teach myself something useful as well! As a busy student, volunteering with a club gives you the chance to leave work aside for a moment, and work on your communication skills, patience and social engagement.

One of my best Code Club moments came during one of the last sessions in December, after having covered all topics in the Scratch-section, we decided to let the children choose one of the games uploaded by other developers, in order to see how far they can take programming with Scratch. The great thing about this was that all the corresponding code to the game was available as well and so students would simply change them as soon as they got stuck. So basically, without having our instructions in front of them and without anyone urging them to use Scratch, they would use their skills to simplify and circumvent problems.