Since we extended Code Club’s age range to include secondary school ages up to 13 last year, we’ve seen a number of new approaches to running Code Clubs.
Nicola Mounsey, Computer Science Teacher at Calday Grange Grammar School, talks about how their sixth form students have become volunteers and helped to build a Code Club which includes pupils from local primary schools.
We’ve been running our Code Club since September 2016. We came up with a model where we run Code Clubs on an eight-week cycle with a rota of local primary schools.
First, we contact local primary schools, aiming at ones where their pupils haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Code Club yet.
Once we have our attendees, 20 children from the local area travel to Calday Grange Grammar School to participate in the club each week. The sessions are facilitated by me and three of our sixth formers. Occasionally, some of our year 9 and 10 students join in too.
We have a flexible approach, tailoring the choice of projects in each eight-week block of sessions depending on the experience of the children, ranging from Scratch projects for beginners through to Python and micro:bit projects for the more experienced learners.
Where necessary, we have the knowledge amongst our volunteers to give one-to-one support or help with more in-depth projects. That said, one of the key benefits of drawing our groups from local schools is that the children in each group are mostly at the same level.
There are many advantages to this way of running our club. Firstly, children have a fantastic opportunity to learn about coding that they may not get in school. Secondly, I work with primary teachers in the local area who have asked for training, and I support them to teach programming to their students. Thirdly, our students are developing their mentoring skills, which benefits them both now and in the future. Some of them are accruing volunteering hours for their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, and volunteering is also something they can put on their UCAS form and their CV.
To sum up, we have an appraoch for running Code Club that is student-led, active, and fun. Our student volunteers build up great relationships with the children, in a way that the club members might not do with adults, since they feel more comfortable with the student volunteers. Our volunteers are vital to running the clubs, and we’re extremely lucky in that whenever students leave to go to university, we have many more in our STEM club waiting to step up and help us.
If you’re a teacher and would like to start a Code Club in your school, you can get started today by registering on the Code Club website.
Are you running a club like this one with older students supporting younger coders? Code Club are interested in inspiring 6th formers to volunteer and would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org