On a lovely autumn day, before the start of the academic year, the Code Club team met to discuss a dream: helping schools in areas without many Code Clubs to get started. Find out what happened next!
Connecting with our community
Our Code Club community is strong because of the many different organisations who work together to support computing education, both inside and outside the classroom. We have been developing our understanding of the communities we have focused on, by partnering with Computing at School (CAS) community leaders, Computing Hub leads, STEM Ambassador Hubs, and local councils. We have also met with head teachers, co-hosted workshops for teachers and volunteers, and presented at partner conferences.
Our first in-person workshop was held in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire at Acklam Grange, well supported by partners from CAS Middlesbrough and Durham and Tees Valley Computing Hub. Another workshop, co-hosted by CAS Hartlepool, was facilitated online for Hartlepool schools. A teacher that attended had this to share:
“The training was very informative and interesting and a good range of activities.”
A few weeks later, we hosted an in-person workshop for Sandwell, West Midlands schools. Like the others, it was a fantastic networking opportunity between schools that were already registered with Code Club and schools that were looking to start their Code Club journey and we loved the buzz of conversation as ideas were shared.
We’ve really valued the support of local councils, especially Haringey, London and Bradford, West Yorkshire, who helped us reach new schools who would benefit from discovering Code Club. Kathryn Loftus, Director of the Education Alliance for Life Chances, shared the value of Code Club to young people in Bradford:
“Code Clubs are a fantastic extracurricular opportunity for Bradford pupils, particularly because they encourage digital literacy skills from an early age and support our district’s ambition to develop computer science skills. Code Clubs also offer pupils a safe space to enjoy and learn a new skill outside of the school day.”
Next we look forward to co-hosting an online workshop for Lincolnshire schools on 29 June 2023, together with STEM Ambassadors East Midlands.
Session planning tips from Hartlepool Code Club
Our quest to grow and know Code Clubs in these areas led us to the doorstep of Fablab Code Club in Hartlepool, County Durham. Michael Storey and Kayleigh Anderson have been running a Code Club at the Fablab Library since early 2021. Reflecting upon their earlier days of running the club, Michael shared:
“…the biggest hurdle we had while we were starting out was planning and getting a structure put in place for how the flow for a lesson would go. Once we got that sorted it took a week for the kids to get used to it and then it worked like clockwork.”
The improvements to their session planning and structuring included:
- Starting with a free time period where club members can complete prior week’s projects or try to make their own projects
- Adding a show-and-tell time at the end to give learners time to express themselves
Michael further elaborated on the value of show-and-tell:
“…it boosts the young person’s confidence, giving them the opportunity to show their parents and ourselves what they have learnt and also inspire other young people…”
Building skills at Great Bridge Primary Code Club
Meeting with young coders was a highlight of visiting clubs, including learners at Great Bridge Primary Code Club, in Tipton, West Midlands, led by club leader Judith Bedford. Since her first club session in 2021, Judith’s club has grown to include a high number of girls who are enthusiastic about coding. The children have developed a range of important skills, from learning to work between tabs of different browser windows, to finding the independence to continue working on their projects at home.
Judith’s own confidence has grown since she began the club, allowing her to feel empowered to let young coders choose their own projects to work on, and enabling her to support them with debugging whenever they “hit a snag”. For Judith, resources such as our certificates, name badges, and door signs have been useful and helped to make her club fun and exciting.
Showcasing new Code Clubs: Worth Valley and Joseph Turner
It has been a real joy to watch the journey of our new clubs in these areas. Worth Valley Primary School, one of the five new Code Clubs in Bradford, are currently working through Scratch. Club leader, Julie Batey, has enjoyed getting “stuck in to the club” as a new coder:
“I am a novice at computing, and I’ve really enjoyed learning how to use Scratch alongside the children. We work through the projects together and I go back to reread how to do things when we get stuck. It is a great little club, and all the children help each other and enjoy coming along every Tuesday.”
Joseph Turner Primary in Sandwell, West Midlands had only been running for seven weeks when we visited. The club leader, Scott Sefton, had a lovely way of guiding his learners through a project while accommodating the joyful expression of their individuality and creativity. There was lots of laughing and “tinkering” with variables as his learners followed along, helping each other whenever anyone got stuck.
Celebrating progress: Join our Code Club summer codealong!
To celebrate the 57 new Code Clubs who have started in our areas of interest, we’re hosting a summer codealong on Tuesday 23 May 2023 at 10:00am BST, and you’re invited too!
Using the block-based language Scratch, children will code a summer garden animation, learning about variables and how to use forever loops within their code.
No experience with Scratch is required as the Code Club team will guide you, step-by-step.
Take a look at our website and see how your school can get involved with Code Club or if your school is based in England, contact Kat and Rujeko at firstname.lastname@example.org!