Challenged by the computing curriculum, or looking to boost your confidence with coding software such as Scratch? Starting an after-school Code Club can help! But don’t take our word for it.
We spoke to Matt Warne, a primary teacher and now Head of Computing and IT at RGS The Grange in Worcester, who told us all about his experiences with Code Club, and how it gave him the boost he needed to further his career.
Before I became immersed in Code Club my background knowledge in Computing could be described as ‘emerging’. I was passionate about the subject and keen to improve my pedagogy, yet struggled for an immediate hook and way in with the kids.
I wanted to start a Code Club to give pupils who were enthusiastic for the subject a chance to try different things, as well as exploring their own ideas.
Getting the club started
I had run computing clubs at school in the past, but they were quite experimental and lacked consistency. Once I started an ‘official’ Code Club, using the projects and running the progressive tasks and engaging challenges, pupils could work at their own rate and really improve their understanding of computer science concepts.
I have run Code Clubs in two different schools over the past three years. In my last school (Malvern Wells Primary) myself and volunteer Robert Bilsland ran the sessions which were attended by around 20 pupils, which in a school of 100 is quite impressive.
Gaining confidence with computing
In my current role as Head of Computing and IT at RGS The Grange we have 22 places in our Code Club, which have been filled each term since September. I currently run this club myself as I am now much more confident.
We are using Scratch for most of our Code Club sessions, yet in the future we plan to offer HTML and Python for more advanced students. I am very aware that this is not something to rush and the Code Club projects in Scratch will provide the foundations of the children’s understanding in the subject.
The impact of Code Club reaches far beyond a chance to play on Scratch, the sessions are fun yet purposeful and the pupils always leave the sessions knowing that little bit more than they did before. The projects also inspire pupils to try different things and I always hear the comment ‘I didn’t know you could do that on Scratch!’
For myself, the benefits of running a Code Club are enormous. The resources are excellent and build upon prior knowledge, the ease to set it up and get it off the ground are also a big factor. The support is there if you need it, and there are always opportunities to seek help and assistance.
New opportunities & experiences
Code Club has provided me with an excellent platform on which to embed Computing in a school setting. Pupils have a natural love for creativity, technology and challenge – Code Club ticks all these boxes. Code Club was my way into computing and with the support of a passionate volunteer, I had been inspired.
One of my best Code Club moments was setting up the first Code Club Skype session between RGS The Grange and Malvern Wells Primary. We Skyped at the start of the session and set each other a challenge, at the end of the session we ran a show and tell with pupils being positive in commenting upon the other schools work. This was pretty inspiring for teachers and pupils!
For anyone thinking about taking that leap of faith – go for it! Before my first ever session my knowledge was limited, as I sit writing this my job title is now ‘Head of Computing and IT’, Code Club was a big factor in my journey as a teacher and also the impact of a volunteer Robert Bilsland was enormous. He was a fabulous role model and continues to inspire pupils and teachers to ‘have a go’ in this enormously rewarding subject.
So what are you waiting for…?
Register your own teacher-led Code Club in three simple steps! Find out more on our website.
You can also check out more from Matt’s Code Club by visiting: http://thegrangecodeclub.blogspot.co.uk/