Practicing real-world programming in a Code Club

Back in 2015, a school email about Code Club led to Mart becoming a volunteer. With three volunteers and a classroom of kids who wanted to get coding, Mart tells us how their Code Club was born.

Our Code Club runs in the eastern suburbs of Victoria, Australia, with numbers that have varied from 30 to 99 kids over the last few years. At the club, members learn how to implement their ideas with code and hardware, and articulate their process by presenting in front of different audiences. We’ve presented our projects at parents’ nights and assemblies, shared our micro:bit MicroPython plant project at an Expo, and our kids have even had the chance to perform demonstrations at Parliament House!

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Mart and his Code Club shared their work with politicians at Parliament House in Canberra

Using activities in your Code Club

We’ve used various activities to help develop the children’s skills, and had real success with a ‘devs and testers’ group: the children chose to work as either developers or testers, and collaborated in teams to fix and develop projects. Students used a three-column system to document their issues and bugs, decide the tasks they needed to work on, and list everything that had been completed. We watched as they decided to nominate one person to merge their fixes and features to avoid conflicts, and came up with the idea to nominate team leaders to help manage everyone. After two weeks, it was great to see the number of completed issues and look at the positive interactions between students.

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The board the Code Clubbers used to document bugs during their ‘devs and testers’ exercise

We also used an adapted activity from Al Sweigart’s book Scratch Programming Playground where students worked to design and make a coding game by first drawing it on paper. This was an exercise in patience, as students were so excited that they ignored the drawing stage and rushed ahead. One student, Ajay, came to me when he found he was getting confused, and we went through the drawing process, discussing which code would be used for each sprite. When Ajay realised how drawing everything out helped to make his next steps clearer, it was like a light went on!

Other memorable moments in our Code Club include two of our students who won prizes in a Scratch competition: Darren with a game where the player was a fish trying to eat other fish, which he’d been working on since starting Code Club; and Jamie with a complex platform game that challenged players to solve puzzles and achieve goals by running and jumping.


A whack-a-mole game created using Scratch and Makey Makey

In past years, we’ve brought in teachers from across the school to volunteer at Code Club sessions on a rotating schedule, while our Assistant Vice Principal and club founder, David, oversees sessions each week. We have a few parent volunteers, but as we have progressed, the majority of our volunteers are actually former Code Club students that have ‘graduated’ and returned to the club. Our first student volunteer is now leaving Code Club to get a job!

Empower your Code Club students

My top tip for running a Code Club is to be proactive — don’t wait for children to raise their hands, but instead make sure to always ask them how they’re doing and what they’re working on. Make sure to talk through what you’re doing when you’re helping kids to debug their work, so they stay engaged and learn the process of asking what isn’t working, what should the code be doing, and which part of the code isn’t working. Above all, empower kids to show their school, family, and friends all the things they’ve made in Code Club. If you’re thinking of starting a Code Club, have a go and do it!

Everyone can start a Code Club!

From coding beginners to tech geniuses, anyone can start a Code Club! Find out how you can help children in your community learn to code at

Volunteer stories: starting a new Code Club

This week we speak to Jenny Riley, who shares her experience of setting up and getting started with Code Club.

Read on to learn how Jenny has structured her first few sessions, and about the impact Code Club is having on the children involved.

Starting a new Code Club

In December last year, I approached the headteacher at my children’s primary school to ask if they would start a Code Club with me as their volunteer. As an undergraduate computing and IT student, I love programming, web design, and the endless possibilities that technology can bring. I wanted to share my passion with others and inspire the children at our school by showing them that they can do these things too.


Together with the deputy head, we launched our Code Club in January and have been overwhelmed by its success so far. We wanted to start small, so we offered ten places for our after-school club. These were immediately filled, with other students asking when they would be able to join.

First sessions

I was very nervous at our first session, but the students were so excited that they soon calmed my nerves. As the children had already done some Scratch programming, we decided we would ease ourselves in by beginning with the Scratch module 1 projects. This worked well, and over the next few weeks, we quickly got into a routine.

The children have a wide range of abilities; some use Scratch at home, and some had only ever used it once or twice. To avoid problems with students getting bored or finding it too difficult, we allow them to work at their own pace. The more confident students are racing ahead, while others take a couple of sessions to complete a project. Some are enjoying it so much that they continue to work on their projects at home!


Now we are even setting additional challenges. During one session, a group of students found they had the ability to record and play back sounds, but since we had no headphones available, the session soon got very loud. At the next session, we decided to set them a challenge: we don’t mind you using sounds, but they have to be used within a program. The students rose to the challenge, and by the end of the session we had a fully working animation of a beatboxing, breakdancing boy, complete with audience applause.

Early impact

After only a few weeks, we could see the confidence and independence of the kids soar. As soon as our students arrive, they know what they are doing and get to work. They are happy to tackle challenges that we set them, and they are always looking for ways to improve their projects. As a club, we avoid simply telling someone the answer if they are stuck, and instead encourage them to investigate or ask another student for advice. The students are always happy to help others out or sit down for a spot of ‘buddy-debugging’.

When I set out on this journey, I wanted to inspire the children, but it turns out it is the students who are inspiring me. I am amazed by their ability to just ‘give it a go’, even things they have never tried before. They don’t get disheartened if something doesn’t work, and they are always willing to help a friend. So even if they don’t go on and become computer scientists, I know that being part of our Code Club is helping them learn important life skills and is giving them the confidence to explore.

Get involved

Jenny is one of thousands of volunteers who help us on our mission to inspire the next generation of digital makers. You don’t need special expertise to start running your own Code Club, and you can get started today at!

Young girl coder on inspiring others to code

Introducing Rachel Ivory, a student who became a role model for girls at Durham Johnston school.

In this blog post, we talk to Rachel Ivory, an inspiring student who set up the project Social Code at her secondary school. Rachel has been using Code Club projects and resources to introduce her younger peers to the wonders of computer science.

In Year 9, Rachel was the only girl in her class showing a real interest in computer science. When she started in Year 10, the school’s uptake for the GCSE subject was 16 boys and just 2 girls.


In showing her passion for the subject, Rachel soon heard some stereotypical ideas that computer science is a ‘nerdy subject’ or ‘just for boys’  — and she realised that this was deterring some girls from getting involved.

Making changes

Determined to do something about this, Rachel set up Social Code, an initiative to encourage young people of all genders to take up computer science. Rachel said her aim was “to change their perspective and provide them with essential skills that will benefit them in life.”

Rachel started by conducting research on what was stopping girls in her school from pursuing computer science, and then she ran fun sessions and assemblies to challenge preconceptions.

Soon Rachel, now head digital leader at her school, had built a club that was really making a difference. On the first session she had just three boys attending, but in under a year, five girls had joined the club. Rachel’s club sessions consist of different tasks, games, and challenges, with Code Club projects and resources as an essential component.

“The girls who have come to Social Code are flourishing with computing and learning to code really well,” said Rachel.


What’s more, Rachel believes that Social Code has made a real impact on the way young people in her school see the subject. She has also been to a number of primary schools to talk about online safety with the aim of attracting the interest of younger girls.

“Providing opportunities for young girls now will provide great things for the world in the future,” Rachel added.

We also spoke to Rachel’s Computer Science Teacher, Mr Garside, who reflected on the great experience Code Club has provided for both the students and staff at the school.

“It has given us the chance to spend a little more time on some elements of computer science than we might have during timetabled lessons, such as getting out the micro:bits and Raspberry Pis.”


Rachel’s club has been learning with the micro:bit projects


Rachel also became the first winner of the Miss Bittlestone Award for Girls in Computer Science at her school. Miss Bittlestone was a former computer science teacher who worked with students to improve the accessibility of the subject. Miss Bittlestone sadly passed away but Rachel has been inspired by her to take the mantle.

Mr Garside is very proud of the work Rachel has done in preparing content, leading assemblies, and acting as role model to younger students.

“Having Rachel as a digital leader has been a real asset to the school, as she is
helping us with our mission to encourage more girls to be interested in the subject,” said Mr Garside.

Start a Code Club

Rachel’s story shows how simple it is to start a Code Club at your secondary school: encourage students to help you run the club, and then register your school on the Code Club website.

Are you running a club like Rachel’s, with older students supporting younger coders? Code Club would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at