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.

Teachers! We need you!

Are you a teacher interested in setting up a Code Club in your school?

We’re looking for teachers to run weekly after school coding clubs! It’s easier than you think to run a Code Club yourself – you don’t need existing coding skills, just a can-do attitude to get stuck in learning alongside your students for an hour a week!

We provide everything you need to run your Code Club – free online or face to face training, and projects which offer structured and fun content for the clubs, so you don’t need to have any existing coding skills to run a club. The projects are step by step guides for children to follow to create animations, games, websites and much more. Children will build up their programming skills as they move through the projects, and challenges provide them with opportunities to demonstrate and apply what they’ve learnt.

By starting a club at your school you’ll be joining a huge community of teachers who do the same thing – more than 50% of our 4300 Code Clubs are run by teachers.

Here are a few tips to set you on your way to get a Code Club started.

Start a teacher-led club in these simple steps:

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If you have any issues setting up your club, have a read of our registration guide for teacher-led clubs. You can also contact Code Club Regional Coordinators in your area – they are there to help you through the registration process and to answer any questions once your club is up and running. Contact a Regional Coordinator near you.

There are thousands of teachers running their own Code Clubs across the country, and around the world. Get involved and see what benefits it can bring to you and your school.

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Start a Code Club in your library

Over the past year, we’ve had more and more Code Clubs starting in libraries around the country. Ipswich County Library is host to one of those new Code Clubs, and they filled us in on they’re progress so far:


My name is Charmain Osborne and I’m the Assistant Library Manager at Ipswich County Library. As part of my role I have responsibility for the Enterprise and Innovation Hub located on the top floor of the library, this is where our weekly Code Club is held.

I first heard  about Code Club a while ago while carrying out a volunteer role I have outside of the library. The concept interested me, but at that point I wasn’t in a position to be able to move forward. When I started at Ipswich County Library in August 2015 I was quite keen to investigate the idea of a Code Club further. By coincidence a volunteer came in to ask if we could start a Code Club in the library. I didn’t need asking twice!

We’ve set up our Code Club with combination of volunteers; Code Club, STEMnet and High School students. I started off with one volunteer who was very pro-active about getting some other volunteers on board, she continues to be extremely helpful and is an active volunteer at the sessions.  

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The library’s Code Club was featured in the local paper, the East Anglian Daily Times.

At each session we generally have 2 Code Club/STEM volunteers and a couple of High School students. The High School students focus on troubleshooting IT and this allows the Code Club/STEM volunteers to interact with the children. Our group started off at 8 children, after the first group of sessions this was increased to 14. The children range in age from 6-11, the youngest children generally have their parents helping them with the material and the group all work well together. We don’t have rigid structure where the children work systematically through the projects. Instead the children choose their own projects to suit their interest and ability working at their own level; if they choose one that is too hard or too easy they soon change it for another one.

The greatest challenge for our Code Club is also our greatest triumph. The club has been more popular than I imagined. The waiting list continues to grow faster than we can create spaces in our club! I’m now considering starting a second Code Club, I’ve approached a local college who have Level 3 Game Design and IT students to see any of them would like to gain some valuable work experience.

My advice to anyone else working in a library and considering starting a Code Club would be: go for it, what have you got to lose? It’s a really great experience to see the children engaged and learning at a Club they have chosen to come to.


If you’d like to start a Code Club in your library, find out more about hosting a Code Club here: www.codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club/venues.

You can then visit www.codeclub.org.uk/register/host to register as a Club Host.