Come along to a Code Club meetup!

by Katharine Childs, Code Club Regional Coordinator for East Midlands

Meetups are a great way for anyone running a Code Club to get ongoing support and for anyone new to find out more. Run by our team of Regional Coordinators, they take place all around the country and are a relaxed, informal way to meet others in the Code Club community to share experiences, swap tips and hear the latest Code Club news.

Last month our Derby meetup took place at the Silk Mill Museum, and had a mixture of existing volunteers, new volunteers and hosts who came along to chat, eat doughnuts and tinker with tech for a couple of hours.


Lots of clubs had received BBC micro:bits back in September 2016, and more clubs were applying in the second round of applications this year, so we had three of the Code Club micro:bit projects on display to play with.

We had a great talk from a host who plans to set up several clubs in a Radio Communication Museum later this year.  Several volunteers were looking for a venue to volunteer at, and so were able to chat to all the hosts who were there and link up to get a Code Club started. As one attendee said, “I found the evening fascinating, enlightening and enjoyable.  All in all, a first class meetup.”


For clubs who had done lots of the Scratch projects and were considering what to do next, there was a presentation about our Python projects including some information on how to use the online coding environment Trinket. This led onto a really interesting discussion about the challenges of using a text-based programming language with children aged 9 – 11, and we crowd-sourced community tips such as:

  • linking back to children’s literacy skills when checking the syntax of their code
  • commenting sections of code to explain what they do and modelling patient
  • methodical debugging by getting it wrong yourself and then working through how to put it right.  

Is there a meetup coming up near you? Find out more on our events page and come along. Whether you’re a host or a volunteer, looking to get involved or running an existing club, there’s bound to be something for you!

Photos credit: Samathy Barratt, new Code Club volunteer

SVW 2017: student volunteers inspiring the next generation

svwwebsiteAs part of Student Volunteering Week, we’re profiling some of the awesome people who work with Code Club student volunteers to run clubs and help inspire the next generation to get excited about coding and digital making.

Chriss McGlone-Atkinson is Network Manager at the Flying Bull Academy and runs the school’s Code Club a alongside student volunteers from the University of Portsmouth. He told us a bit more about why he got involved, and how his club is run…

I first found out about Code Club when I was approached by another member of staff, who was in the process of setting up a reading group with volunteers from the University of Portsmouth.  The staff at the University explained to us that they were working with Code Club and asked whether we’d be interested.  I’d been looking to set up a coding club, but finding time to prepare resources and run the sessions had been difficult, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a club started. The partnership with the University has taken the entire burden off of me, with well-prepared resources and volunteers willing to run the sessions.


We started our club last year, and run every Monday for an hour.  We have approximately fifteen children from years five and six, with many more interested in joining at a later date.  There are currently three student volunteers from the University of Portsmouth who run the sessions, and they have been absolutely fantastic for us.

In the club sessions we have been working through the Scratch projects supplied by Code Club, which the children have really engaged with, and look forward to each week.  

Last week we had a year 5 pupil who was overjoyed that he had managed to finish one of the projects we’d been working on.  He can sometimes struggle to pick up certain instructions, but the structured nature of the projects has enabled him to make steady progress in the weeks since we began the club.  The children take real ownership of their projects and work hard to complete them, therefore to see how happy he was just confirmed to me how effective the club has been.

We have now begun using some of the Code Club projects in our computing lessons, and those children who are members of the club have been assisting their teachers in the delivery and support of the lessons.  I would expect going forward that we continue this practice, as children take pride in being able to take responsibility for the development of their peers.


Code Club and the University of Portsmouth have been so supportive in helping get our club up and running, having taken out all the stress of resourcing and running the sessions.  I’d highly recommend speaking to them if you’re interested in setting up a Code Club.

Find out more about what Code Club can offer for student volunteers and for schools.

SVW 2017: supporting Code Club’s student volunteers

svwwebsiteIt’s Student Volunteering Week! And to celebrate, this year we’re profiling some of those who work with Code Club’s student volunteers to help them in running clubs. Student Hubs are just one of the organisations that have been supporting our work with students across the country. We spoke to Rachel Tait, Student Hubs’ Network Operations Manager, who told us about their work with over 50 Code Club student volunteers from a wide range of universities who work with pupils at over a dozen schools…

But what brings students to Code Club? Rachel explained to us a bit about what motivations students have to volunteer their time to Code Club: “The three primary motivations are to improve things / help people, to develop skills, and to gain work experience. It’s almost always a combination of these things. Applicants have been evenly split across first, second and third year students, which shows that it’s a relevant opportunity whether you’ve just started uni or are graduating soon. 95% of applicants study a STEM subject, many of which involve programming, so it’s no surprise that this is a popular volunteering opportunity for them. The good news for non-STEM students is that the software used in Code Club, Scratch, is very easy to learn, so don’t be put off from giving it a go!”


“There are definitely some common themes for what people get out of volunteering,” Rachel told us. “Volunteers find it very rewarding to see the children’s increasing interest and confidence in coding. The other is that volunteers gain valuable skills and experience themselves. Teachers agree as well, with one teacher telling us, ‘I think working with the student volunteers has given our children some understanding of where their education can take them, what university is and has raised their aspirations to go to university when they are older.’”

Rachel also mentioned that volunteers can face challenges along the way. “It’s worth noting that volunteering with children in schools isn’t always smooth sailing. There have been issues such as low pupil attendance or challenging behaviour in the classroom, which can put volunteers off, but we’ve found that regular communication with the volunteers and additional coaching/training when necessary can help volunteers to solve problems themselves which makes their experience even more rewarding and developmental.”

Nevertheless, there has been a great response from students who have been volunteering with Code Club. In fact, the feedback has been unanimous; “100% of our 2015-16 Code Club volunteers would recommend volunteering with Code Club to a friend which speaks for itself. It’s a fantastic opportunity whether you’re looking to make a difference in your local community, learn basic programming, put your existing programming skills to use, or gain practical leadership, teamwork and communication experience. If you’re at Bristol, Brookes, Cambridge, Kingston, Oxford, Southampton or Winchester, please contact your local Hub team to find out how we can support you to become a Code Club volunteer. If you’re at any other uni, visit the Code Club website.”