Volunteer stories

We love hearing from our volunteers and their experiences of running Code Clubs across the UK.

We’d like to kick things off as we start the new academic year by hearing from Steve Manson, who runs a Code Club at Bucklebury C.E Primary School near Reading.

We asked him a bit about his experiences with Code Club to date:


What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a Code Club volunteer?

The biggest challenge I have found is getting the right level in my leading. By which, I mean understanding the competency of the group I’m working with and how hard I can push in terms of them being able to take on board the ideas and principles behind programming.

How’s your relationship with the school at which the club is run? Have you encountered any issues, and if so how did you deal with them?

My local school is great, I’m Vice Chair of the Governors as well, so my relationship with the school as a whole is very strong. I know most of the parents of the school as well as the kids as it is a small village school of 125 pupils. Luckily there have been no major issues to overcome. One or two clubbers need prompting every now and then to focus and get back on task, but Sally the teacher is wonderful and steps in if it is a discipline issue.

What’s it like working with 12 primary school kids?

Herding cats comes to mind! No honestly, it is great fun and you get asked a lot of questions that can make you think and re-evaluate your ideas.

Some club leaders have found it difficult having to print out loads of copies of our projects every week, how do you deal with that?

I used to print loads, but now I just direct the kids to the website and get them to download the projects on their PCs. Negates the whole issue. If they weren’t able to do that I would download the projects to a stick and use the whiteboard projector to display the handouts or load them directly to their PCs. Basically there are many ways of overcoming that issue.

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Some clubs have problems with the IT systems at schools, is that something you’ve come across, and if so how did you deal with them?

Fortunately my school has a very active Parent Teacher Association who have managed to get a suite of 30 plus PCs. Also I have a limited budget to buy bits for Code Club as well. Recently they let me spend £300 on weather station kits for the Raspberry Pis. Going forward I know that I will be asking them for more funding for various things, but I’m keeping quiet on those for now.

How does your employer feel about you taking time out to lead a Code Club? How do you manage your workload?

I have recently changed jobs and I made a point of highlighting my commitment to Code Club as part of my interviews. In some ways I think it made me a better option for them having a programmer who is passionate about what he does to the point of wanting to teach others. Even so, I load the front end of the work week to ensure that I have accrued enough time to go and also if I have to stay at work for releases etc there is another club leader who can step in to help, as I do for her.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a club?

Do it, no question. It is immensely rewarding on so many levels: from seeing the kids light up when they solve a problem, to being able to coordinate and communicate to a varied bunch of individuals. This is directly linked to how I work with people in the office. Though I think that the kids can be more mature than my management at times…. Kidding, but the principles are there and being able to guide and mentor them is a fun challenge.

If you’re keen to start a Code Club in your local community, you can register online now via our website, or click here to find out more details about volunteering with us.

Got more questions? Get in touch with our team at support@codeclub.org.uk

Thank you to the EDGE Conference!

Robot - 019 copyWe wanted to say a big thank you to EDGE for donating their profits of £14,000 from their conference this year to Code Club!

As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on donations such as these to continue our work, providing support and resources for our community of volunteers who commit their free time to help teach children around the UK to learn to code for free.

The wonderful folks at EDGE had this to say about why they decided to donate their profits to us:

EDGE Conference is all about pushing the boundaries of web development and setting the internet standards of the future, so in our minds there is no better organisation to support than one that is helping to foster the next generation of coders and designers that will one day end up contributing to our industry. In years to come, hopefully EDGE and LDNWebPerf will have contributors who started their journey in a Code Club after school club.”

So thank you… again! Without such generosity, Code Club would not be where we are today.

Interested in making a donation to Code Club? Find out more about how you can help.

Changes to the Code Club website

Here at Code Club HQ we’ve been busy making some improvements to our website over the summer.

What’s new?

We’ve made it easier and clearer to register and manage your clubs. We’ve also refreshed our projects website, adding loads of useful info about the specific skills that are covered in our projects and lots of other lovely educational stuff.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 09.45.15

In line with these website updates, we’ve made some adjustments to the Code Club terms and conditions, which we advise you take a look at here.

Changes to how you access Code Club projects:

Other than tinkering with the look and design of some pages, one of the biggest changes we have made is to adjust the way that volunteers, club hosts and children in clubs access our projects page.

When you visit the projects site, you will now be prompted to enter a Club ID and PIN. Registered volunteers and clubs hosts will use these details to login and access the full range of Code Club’s projects. The Club ID and PIN can be shared with Code Club members to use in club time and at home as well.

What does this mean for you?

If your club is already registered, no need to worry. Log in to our website as usual to view your ID and PIN, which you can find via the new Club Hub page.

Here's an example of what your Club Hub will look like.

Here you can see an example of what your Club Hub will look like, and where you can find your Club ID and PIN.Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 11.31.05 (2)

If you don’t have a registered club, again, don’t worry – it’s really easy to get sorted. You can register right now on our website. We’ve streamlined the process so it should be nice and easy. Once your registration is complete you’ll be able to access your PIN and Club ID through the new “Club Hub” page. Sorted.

If you’re not yet running a club but want to see our projects, there will be two sample projects for each course we teach available online for everyone to use. If you want to use all of our projects, you will need to be running a fully registered club.

Why are we making these changes?

Code Club fully rely on funding from trusts and companies to help us create and provide free resources and support for our volunteers. In order to apply for that funding and report our achievements, it is essential that we can measure our impact to find out how well we’re doing and what can be done better. One of the ways we do this is by measuring the number of clubs that have been opened by volunteers. Asking our clubs to register helps us secure the future of Code Club so we can continue to teach children to code for free for many more years to come.

Registering clubs is important to help keep the children who attend Code Club safe, so that we know who is running the club and that they have been appropriately checked.

Please take a look at the changes we have made and if you have any questions you can check out our FAQs page, or contact a member of our team at support@codeclub.org.uk.