From China to Mexico and beyond: Code Club Growth Leaders

At Code Club, we think everyone should have the opportunity to learn to code, no matter who they are or where they come from. James Aslett, International Programme Manager for Code Club, shares the launch of the new Growth Leaders programme, where we are working with other like-minded organisations to make this vision come true.

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Today, 4 out of 5 countries in the world have at least one active Code Club — in indigenous communities in Australia, favelas in Brazil, isolated parts of northern Canada, and thousands of towns and cities in between. That’s amazing! But we want to grow the Code Club network even more, so we can reach our goal of having a club in every community in the world.

This is why we’ve launched a new partnership programme called Growth Leaders so we can collaborate with expert not-for-profit organisations across the globe to bring Code Club to children in their communities.

The Growth Leaders programme

Over the last six years, we’ve spent a lot of time researching the best way to support and grow Code Clubs. We have packaged up all this experience together with lots of engaging resources, and are offering all this to other not-for-profit organisations for free. In return, we ask that these organisations commit to helping grow the Code Club network, upholding our values, and supporting our volunteers to get started.

From Zhejiang to Mexico City


The organisation Happy Coding was already teaching robotics to young people in high schools in Zhejiang when the team joined our pilot phase of Growth Leaders. They were looking for a way to reach primary school children, most of whom weren’t receiving any formal coding education. With support from Code Club, in just three months they have been able to set up an amazing 17 Code Clubs in public schools!

“I chose Code Club because of its success in many other countries and the opportunity to learn from and interact with non-profits in other countries. Being part of the Growth Leaders network gives me access to great resources that encourage children to code for the first time.” – Xia Tianyan, Founder of Happy Coding

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For Jacaranda, another organisation in the Growth Leader pilot, Code Club works perfectly alongside changes happening in the education system in Mexico. As well as supporting students in schools, Jacaranda has also facilitated summer courses in a public library in Mexico City, including a popular girls-only course.

“The Code Club programme has so far proved to be a great way to get schools, teachers, and students on the road and started and connected with STEAM, making, and twenty-first century learning in a variety of contexts.” – Michael Beckwith, Director of Operations at Jacaranda

Could you become a Growth Leader?

Our Growth Leaders programme is now open to applications from non-profit organisations around the world! If you are part of an organisation that might be interested, find out more on the Growth Leader page on our website.

How North Ayrshire council is making coding accessible to all

Back in May, North Ayrshire Council in Scotland made a pledge to tackle the digital skills gap by providing access to Code Clubs for all learners aged 9–13 by August 2020. Here the team behind the initiative tells us why they think Code Club is important and how they plan to achieve their goal.


James McNeil is an IT Support Officer at North Ayrshire Council.  His passion for coding made him want to share his knowledge at his daughters’ primary school, and so he started volunteering with Code Club in 2016.

“I had always wanted to do something coding-related at the school, but with work and kids I never had much time to plan content for lessons. Then I discovered Code Club and its fantastic resources! Having this pre-written curriculum made it possible for me to approach my girls’ school and offer to run a club.” – James McNeil

James loved the experience so much that he decided to team up with colleague Michele Laverty, Project Manager in the council’s Transformation Team, to run a Saturday-morning Code Club at their local library. Like James, Michele also runs a club at a nearby primary school.

The ‘Coding the Future’ pledge

As a result of this enthusiasm for Code Club, in November 2017 the council set up a ‘Coding the Future’ project team, recruiting together staff from from Customer and Digital Services, Education and Youth Employment, and Economy and Communities. This team had the aim of expanding and supporting Code Clubs across the authority.

Within a few months, the team’s wider council services pledged to provide access to Code Clubs for all learners aged 9–13 by August 2020. Since then, pilot Code Clubs have been set up across North Ayrshire, with 24 active clubs currently registered in schools, libraries, and community centres.

“Our ‘Coding the Future’ programme is all about improving digital literacy here in North Ayrshire, with the aim of addressing the digital skills gap that exists in this country. There is no better way to improve this than by developing our younger generation and equipping them with the necessary skills.”
– Michele Laverty, Rosslyn Lee, Clare Bethell, and James McNeil, ‘Coding the Future’ project team

Finding volunteers

When looking for volunteers, the project team turned to staff from the three services that signed the ‘Coding the Future’ pledge. So far 30 volunteers have signed up, becoming STEM ambassadors in the process.


These volunteers are part of a ‘train the trainer’ approach: they support schools and libraries to set up their own clubs, and then taking a step back once the venue staff members feel confident to run the clubs by themselves. Moving forward, the project team is also interested in involving secondary school pupils as volunteers and STEM ambassadors.

Summer Code Camp!

To celebrate the launch of the ‘Coding the Future’ initiative, this July the team decided to run a week-long Summer Code Camp, which gave up to 25 kids per day the chance to learn how to code using Scratch, Spheros, and micro:bits.

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As the location for the camp, the team picked a local primary school that offers free school meals and activities during the summer break, ensuring that the event was accessible for all.

“Over the week, we saw kids who had never used Scratch before use a selection of the fantastic Code Club Scratch projects to design and build their fully functioning games. Along with the coding skills that Code Camp taught the kids, they also learned creative problem-solving, logical reasoning, decomposition, and computational thinking.

It was brilliant to watch their confidence grow over the week and demystify coding, making it something they can control, rather than just interacting with someone else’s creation. Along with their new coding skills, the kids made new friends with a shared passion and shared experiences.”
– Michele Laverty, Rosslyn Lee, Clare Bethell, and James McNeil, ‘Coding the Future’ project team

Help a Code Club in your community

At Code Club we believe that any child, no matter their background, should be able to develop computing skills to prepare themselves for an increasingly digital world.

Join us on our mission by volunteering to help run a Code Club at

Scratch 3: what does the new version of Scratch mean for your Code Club?

The team behind Scratch have announced that they are releasing a new version of the drag-and-drop programming language in January 2019. Here Martin O’Hanlon, Content and Curriculum Manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, tells us what this means for people running Code Clubs, and what new features you can look forward to.

A new version of Scratch is on its way, and it looks fantastic!

Scratch 3 will be the latest version of the free block-based programming language that you’re familiar with, and there is a lot to be excited about. The Scratch team has released the beta version of Scratch 3 at, and it’s definitely worth a try.

New in version 3

The look and feel have been given an upgrade, with perhaps the most notable change being that the stage is now on the right-hand side. Plus, there are new paint and sound editing tools, and larger, easier-to-read code blocks.


There are also loads of new sprites, backdrops, and sounds.


The Scratch team has also released a new extension system that allows you to use web services such as Google Translate in your projects.

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There are also new extensions for hardware such as micro:bit and LEGO Mindstorms, making it much easier to use Scratch to program these devices.

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And another very exciting update: Scratch 3 will work on tablets, making coding more accessible to those children who don’t have access to a computer.


Release dates

Scratch 3 will be released on 2 January 2019. It will replace the current Scratch 2 editor on, meaning Scratch 2 will no longer be available online. At this point, you’ll also be able to download and install an offline version of Scratch 3.

If you are using Internet Explorer as your browser, then please note that it will not support Scratch 3. Scratch 3 will however be supported on the newer version of the Microsoft browser, Edge.

On our side, by January 2019 we will also update the Code Club projects so that they work with Scratch 3, although we’ll make sure that Scratch 2–compatible versions remain available so that you have time to upgrade your offline versions.

And we’ll also release brand-new Scratch 3 projects, which will take advantage of the newly introduced features, before January so that your club members can start to have fun with the new version.

Talk to us about Scratch 3

If you have any questions about the upcoming release of Scratch 3,  feel free to reach out to us via or on Twitter and Facebook.

You can also share your experience of using the Scratch 3 beta version with our community on social media — we’d love to see your projects and experiments!