Student Volunteers: Giving back to your community with Code Club

Code Club are looking for student volunteers who would like to share their skills and spare time to help inspire the next generation of digital makers!

If you haven’t already heard of us, 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!).

We have some amazing student volunteers who have been helping to run Code Clubs in their local communities. This includes Kirsty Hayward, who volunteers as part of Success4All, an educational charity in Newcastle that helps children, young people and families through their learning hubs.

Read on to learn more about Kirsty’s experience volunteering with Code Club – perhaps it could inspire you to start your own Code Club as well!img_7280

What inspired you to volunteer for Code Club?

When I arrived in Newcastle for my undergraduate degree, I was keen to find a good volunteering opportunity to give something back to my new local community. Through Newcastle University’s Go Volunteer Scheme, I contacted Success4All and got involved volunteering as a tutor in STEM subjects in S4A’s Learning Hubs. During the year, S4A’s Code Club needed some extra help and I began learning more about Code Club and helping out. In September 2015, I took overmanaging S4A’s Code Clubs; as well as growing the number of clubs, volunteers and outreach events that Success4All works with. When I started volunteering, I recognised Scratch and some HTML coding from my own secondary school ICT education back in 2008, which I enjoyed greatly, but I am no tech expert!

robot-004-copyTell us as a bit about your Code Club

Currently I host 4 Code Clubs across Newcastle upon Tyne with a team of 5 volunteers. Last year, we reached over 40 children between all of our Code Clubs with around 10 children at each club. The children have worked through many of the Scratch projects and enjoy making many of their own from their incredible imaginations! We have also worked through some of the HTML/CSS and Python projects using Trinket. Our Code Clubs have been able to invest in a few Lego robots and received several BBC micro:bits from Code Club, so we have been learning how to code with these extra gadgets. The Lego robots and micro:bits are especially popular in the Code Clubs and definitely engage the children to think outside the screen and how things work in the real world.

What would you say are the benefits of volunteering for Code Club?

Code Club develops a fantastic little community amongst the children, helping them learn a new skill, of which they become very proud. Many of the children delight in sharing what they have learnt with each other, building friendships between children who may not usually talk to each other. They love becoming experts in Scratch and returning to their curriculum ICT lessons brimming with all their new tips and tricks to share with the rest of their peers. It is incredible to know you have created this environment for children to be inspired by their own work and the code behind their favourite games and websites. Running a Code Club tests many of your interpersonal, teaching and managerial skills, and gives you a fantastic array of examples of using your skill set for job interviews and CVs.

Why is Code Club important to you?

The Code Clubs I run are in areas of Newcastle marked by poor educational achievement. Working with a group of children who may have a negative relationship with learning and education, it becomes all the more rewarding when the children become inspired by something they have discovered in Code Club and develop a renewed enjoyment of learning new skills. In our Code Clubs, we embrace the chaos and take a friendly self-directed approach to learning, encouraging the children to create their own questions and experiment with the possibilities of coding and the depths of their imaginations. This is an aspect of our Code Clubs that I am really proud of. I hope Code Club helps the children to think differently about learning and enables them to develop transferable skills that they can use to improve their education in school and into the future.

How does volunteering fit into your schedule?

robot-003-copyThe Code Clubs I run all take place after school in the evenings. Currently, as a full time university student, my schedule is relatively flexible, so it works for me to volunteer for Code Club around it. On a typical Code Club day, I will travel to the club straight after university, compensating for the study hours spent at Code Club by taking 1-2 hours out of my weekend or evening.

What has been your best ‘Code Club moment’?

There have been so many Code Club moments where I have been very proud of the coders, by their achievements and behaviour towards each other. I was particularly proud of one child, who is normally quite quiet and focused on his own work, who began sharing tips to help others with their Scratch projects.

How Universities can support student volunteering with Code Club

The staff and students at Wolverhampton University started a Code Club in November 2015 to help children in the local community learn coding skills after-school.  They have created a fantastic and fun Code Club, inspiring the next generation of coders.

Mark Bircumshaw, Education Advisor for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University, told us how the club at Wolverhampton Children’s Library got off the ground.

“We registered 3 students and one member of staff as volunteers with Code Club, and started off with some taster sessions during the October half term. We then began our first Code Club on Monday evenings once the school term began. The Children’s Library has 12 computers and to accommodate all those interested we ended up doubling up children to work in pairs. The space is very limited but we managed to create a fun, busy atmosphere each Monday.”wonderbot

They began the club by using Code Club’s Scratch projects, trying out a different project each week. “The first few weeks were as much about us learning alongside the children as they were about running a club in the community and working in collaboration with the Library.” Mark said, “The Library staff were very helpful, assisting with advertising the club via posters in the library, and gathering the children’s details and parental permissions.”

The demand continued to outgrow the computers and the space available, so they began running two back-to-back sessions after the Christmas break. The first group was for follow on students and the second for newcomers.

Kevin and Callam were two of the computing students that helped to lead the Code Cub sessions. Kevin is thrilled with how the club has “grown from strength to strength… this has been by far one of the best teaching environments I have ever been in. All of the students who visited each week were well behaved and were eager to just get on with the task in hand to complete, to the very best of their ability.

Being a member of Code Club  has shown me that people of all walks of life can be interested in programming, from such early ages; for me, as an aspiring Teacher of Computer Science, this is a really amazing thing to witness.”Halo 001

Callam also noted that “Code Club gave me the chance to explore a classroom environment from the perspective of a teacher or an authoritative figure. This has provided me with invaluable experience. Not only has Code Club allowed me to develop a teaching technique, it has also helped me to grow as a person. It has helped to build my confidence and to learn to communicate with others.”

If you would like to find out more about starting a Code Club through your University, Sixth form or Higher Education College, head over to our website:

New Star Clubs for 2016!

We are delighted to be welcoming a grand total of 23 new clubs to the Code Club Star Clubs network.

Welcome to: Derby Central Library, Chuter Ede Primary School, Ipswich County Library, Enterprise and Innovation Hub, The Spinney Primary School, Stokenchurch Primary School, Shacklewell Primary School, Bishop Ian Ramsey CofE Primary School, Liverpool Central Library, UKFast, Rolls Crescent Primary School, St Raphael’s Catholic Primary School, Lundavra Primary School, Duddingston Primary School, Fryern Junior School, Castlewood Primary School, Longlevens Library, Plymouth Central Library, Penarth Library, Ysgol Gymraeg Melin Gruffydd, CHESS Centre, Tile Hill Library, Cedars Academy, Thirsk Library.


“ We were so pleased to find out we had been made a Star Club.  The trophy has taken pride of place in our school awards cabinet, alongside the school’s other achievements.  We will continue to enjoy the excellent projects provided by Code Club and look forward to sharing our adventures with visitors and online.”
Tim Head, teacher, Chuter Ede Primary School

Star Clubs have committed to sharing their expertise to help grow the Code Club community. They do this through hosting visits from VIPs, contributing to online discussions and hosting training sessions for new volunteers. They are also happy to have visits from potential volunteers who would like to experience a club before they start.

Funsi, a new volunteer in Nottingham, told us how visiting a club really helped her on the road to getting up and running as a volunteer:

“I got to observe the club in action as they created a game on Scratch – for instance I observed how the children supported each other. Also I had the chance to interact with some children by asking what aspect(s) of the programme they liked and why. So, yes it was worth visiting to see how a club runs!”

Head over to the Code Club website to find your local Star Club and get in touch to arrange your visit.