#VolunteersWeek: A star volunteer at a Star Club!

Robin Blackstone is one of our super-talented volunteers who runs a Star Club at Irchester Community Primary School in Northamptonshire.

Star Clubs are outstanding Code Clubs with friendly volunteers and supportive teachers and venue representatives, which are open for new or prospective volunteers to visit as an example of best practice and all round awesomeness.

Robin told us a bit about what inspired him to volunteer with us:


“I got involved with volunteering for Code Club because I was tinkering with Raspberry Pi computers and wanted to do something to support the educational ethos of the project. When I then stumbled upon Code Club, it was a natural fit. Code Club was the kind of thing I would have loved to have done when I was 10 but didn’t get the opportunity.

I find that there is an enormous sense of satisfaction when a child finally gets their own game working after spotting a critical bug, or when you realise that the children can navigate their way around Scratch quicker than you! As a parent, volunteering at the Code Club has also enabled me become more involved with the school that my daughters attend.

My best Code Club moment was when we took three of our coders to Cambridge to take part in Pi Wars. Together we built and programmed a robot and competed against the “big kids.” We didn’t win but it really inspired the children.

Code Club is important to me, firstly because it is important to the kids in my club. Secondly, because when I was at school an interest in computing made you a nerd. Now, Code Club is helping to make coding cool – even Will.i.am is into it – who would have ever thought!

I am lucky that I finish work in time for Code Club. That said, my employer is supportive, I’m never held back for any reason when it’s time for my club!”

Want to pay a visit to Robin at his Star Club? You can arrange a visit here. Alternatively, you can search for your nearest Star Club on our website: https://www.codeclub.org.uk/star-clubs/visit

Already volunteering and think your Code Club could achieve Star status? You can now apply to become a Star Club here. If you are already a Star Club, you don’t need to reapply, we’ll contact you to tell you how to renew.

#VolunteersWeek: Teacher training with Code Club Pro

Julia Harrison is a volunteer for Code Club’s teacher training arm, Code Club Pro. Code Club Pro asks experts to donate 8 hours per year of their time to share knowledge with teachers in their local areas.

We asked Julia to explain a bit about her work with Code Club Pro, and helping teachers conquer the challenges of the new curriculum:


“Technology is one of my big passions, and I get a lot of satisfaction from volunteering activities that enable and inspire more children to use computing in their careers. It’s fulfilling to help teachers gain confidence and enthusiasm to teach core computing concepts, and hopefully I can shatter some preconceptions of what it’s like to work in IT along the way!

The new computing curriculum is a great opportunity to open the minds of children to the idea that they can be digital makers – actually creating their own games and computer programs.

For many primary school teachers who have never written a line of code, clearly this is going to be a big leap. I’m thrilled that the IT industry is stepping up to support them, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Code Club Pro makes it easy for us to contribute in a way that adds real value. Morgan Stanley actively encourages all of its employees to volunteer within our communities. My job requires me to attend a lot of meetings, but because I can book Code Club Pro sessions in advance at a time that suits me, and I have the support of my managers, it’s easy to work them into my schedule.

It’s great when teachers start to notice that so many computing concepts are very similar to what they’ve been teaching for years. I’m excited that all children now have the opportunity to learn about coding, both for the career opportunities it opens up, and to understand the technology we use in our daily lives.”

Interested in getting involved in volunteering with Code Club Pro, or want to learn more about attending a teacher training session? Find out more at https://www.codeclubpro.org 

Volunteers Week: Meet one of our student volunteers…

Continuing our Volunteers Week blog series, we hear from Abbas Tutcuoglu, an Aeronautical Engineering student from Imperial University, who runs a Code Club in London. Abbas filled us in about what inspired him to get involved:


Where I grew up in Germany, I experienced the uneven chances in education based on different financial backgrounds from a very early age. I felt that many of my friends who ended up in Hauptschule (secondary school with lowest future job prospects) actually had the potential to make it to Gymnasium (secondary school with highest job prospects), but simply haven’t received the necessary support during their time in primary school.

Often, this is because both parents have to work and don’t understand the local school system, which makes it difficult for them to provide any useful help to their children. In other cases, they underestimate the myriad opportunities that a good education can provide.

I therefore got involved with Code Club because I felt that sharing my own knowledge might help other disadvantaged students to receive the support that some of my peers growing up lacked, and it might help grant them equal chances of success in their future.

I really enjoy being part of Code Club because I get the opportunity to share my knowledge with others. I didn’t know any HTML before I started running my club, so I actually got to teach myself something useful as well! As a busy student, volunteering with a club gives you the chance to leave work aside for a moment, and work on your communication skills, patience and social engagement.

One of my best Code Club moments came during one of the last sessions in December, after having covered all topics in the Scratch-section, we decided to let the children choose one of the games uploaded by other developers, in order to see how far they can take programming with Scratch. The great thing about this was that all the corresponding code to the game was available as well and so students would simply change them as soon as they got stuck. So basically, without having our instructions in front of them and without anyone urging them to use Scratch, they would use their skills to simplify and circumvent problems.