Let’s get back to Code Club safely

Move over August, September has arrived and Code Club has a range of exciting new options to help you restart your Code Club safety.

Guiding you through options

We’ve developed a framework to guide you through which option will suit your club’s current situation. The options are flexible, to allow you to pick and combine elements that will work for your club and venue. 

Members from the Code Club community have kindly shared their learnings and experiences on the options, and provided top tips for getting back to coding this September. 

In-person sessions

When you are ready to restart your club, in-person sessions will run as normal, following guidelines from your local health authority and safeguarding for your venue. Hear how Richard Hayler from Cranmere Code Club in the UK is preparing his club for in-person sessions: 

“We’re really looking forward to when we can resume our in-person sessions and are working with our school on the safest way to do this.”

Online sessions

During August, Rohima and Christina from the Code Club team had fun running online sessions for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. An online session is run by an educator or volunteer; it takes place at a regular chosen time and runs using video conferencing or live-streaming tools.

If your club is considering running online sessions, take a look at the advice from Rohima and Christina: 

  • “Be prepared in your setting — check the sound on your laptop is working, plug in your charger, and have the club window open so you can start promptly.” (Rohima) 
  • “Don’t worry if you only have a couple of children turn up, embrace it. They are there because they want to be, make it a fun place to be, you may just inspire a future coder!” (Rohima)
  • “I learned how different it was to do group coding online vs in person. In some cases, your role is to just check in with kids every 10–15 minutes and facilitate the sharing. Sometimes, it’ll be quiet, so talk to your group about having music!” (Christina) 
  • “Remember to be patient with yourself, participants, and parents, especially with the first session. You’re going to learn so much during the first session that will make your second, third, and fourth session run super smoothly!” (Christina)  

Remote activities

We checked in with D&G libraries in Scotland who are regularly sending out remote activities from the Digital Making at Home programme to parents via their Facebook page. They’re then on hand to answer questions and offer support when needed. 

Here’s what a parent said about the activities:   

“My son really enjoyed the coding club over the summer, he had done a little before and picked up how to do it very quickly. It was fun and interactive and he has been back time and time again trying new things.”

Keeping your club flexible 

The pandemic is keeping us on our toes, and we know that clubs may not always be able to run consistently in-person, online, or remote activities. Leeds Libraries used a pick-and-mix approach to running their Code Club, read about how they got on.

We encourage you to feel confident to pick and combine the options according to what best suits you and your venue.

Take a look at our ways to run a Code Club page for everything you will need to get your club back up and running this September, including new resources, the framework, and updated safeguarding guidance. 

What do you think about Code Club? The results are in!

At the end of 2019 we asked the Code Club community to tell us about your clubs as part of our annual survey. The full report has now been published and here are some of the highlights from your feedback.

Who are our volunteers and club leaders? 

We received a total of 1583 survey responses from 69 countries across the world, from Vietnam, to Colombia, to Mozambique.

The majority of the volunteers and club leaders who responded told us they were between the ages of 35 and 54, and worked as educators or in a STEM role. Around 50% of our club leaders and volunteers identified as female, with 47% identifying as male.

Code Club’s impact on children

The most common theme from your comments was the positive impact of Code Club on young learners. Many of you shared the skill development that takes place in your clubs, not just in coding and STEM skills, but also in soft skills, such as creativity, confidence, problem-solving, and collaboration.

When asked about the impact seen in young people attending your club, we found that:

  • 94% agreed that young people improve their programming skills
  • 92% agreed that they became more confident in their computer skills
  • 92% agreed that the children you reach are now more interested in programming
  • 88% agreed that young people in your club were now better at solving problems with computers 
  • And 83% agreed the young people in your club were better at teaching others computer skills

We were pleased to slightly increase the number of girls attending Code Clubs to 40%, and interested to see that the average Code Club size has fallen slightly — from 15 to 13 children. Most clubs had between 10 and 14 attendees

Clubs across the world told us that they loved how their Code Club acted as a ‘safe and welcoming space’, where young people were able to learn in an open and inclusive environment.

“Code Club has helped me to create a safe learning space for students who are curious and ready to explore the world of code. We have developed an environment where risk-taking, [and] sharing and celebrating mistakes have become the norm.”

The reward of running a Code Club

We were delighted to hear how much club leaders and volunteers enjoy learning alongside the young people in their Code Club. 

“The best thing about Code Club is to be able to teach and learn at the same time, contributing to the knowledge of future generations. I feel fulfilled!”

Many of you also shared how rewarding you found being an adult supporter at your Code Club, from finding joy in working with young people, to feeling pride in seeing the young people in your club develop.  

Resources

We also asked what projects you used most in your clubs. Scratch remains a firm favourite, with 90% of clubs using Scratch projects, while Python and micro:bit projects were also popular. 

You told us that you love our certificates, our variety of projects, and the project challenges. The fact that the Code Club curriculum is ready made and the availability of translated versions of the projects were also popular points. And you also appreciated our competitions, as they give young people a chance to engage in a project alongside other clubs around the world. 

Keep sharing with us! 

Join the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to keep hearing stories and feedback from your club over on the #MyCodeClub hashtag. 

Linking code to literacy with The 13-Storey Treehouse

Learn how Leeds Libraries have adapted their Code Clubs and established a thriving online coding community as part of their #LibrariesFromHome offer. 

This online offer has given young coders from across the city the chance to be involved in a collaborative project linking code to literacy with the book The 13-Storey Treehouse. 

Lee is sat down, looking into the camera. In front of him is a laptop and on the screen you can see he is working on a Scratch project.
Young coder Lee who took part in the project

Linking Code Club to literacy 

Leeds Libraries looked at how to link Code Club to literacy, reading for pleasure, and their wider online offer #LibrariesFromHome — particularly their e-borrowing service and Lego Club.

The team were keen to create a project inspired by a book that was available via the e-borrowing service, to encourage Code Club participants to borrow and explore the book to get ideas for their code.

Deciding on the book 

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton became the book that inspired the creation of the club’s first multilevel platform game. The book was also selected as the theme for the libraries’ online Lego Club, which allowed the team to cross-promote their online offers and reach a wider audience.

Mark Kirkby, librarian at Leeds Libraries, shares why this book offered the perfect opportunity to create a collaborative online game:

“The different levels of the treehouse in The 13-Storey Treehouse provided an ideal structure for a platform game allowing us to showcase all our Code Club participants’ coding together in one project.”

“Club members were encouraged to take the setting and game narrative ideas from The 13-Storey Treehouse, and draw upon their experience of Code Club projects such as Dodgeball for the platform game content, and Create your own world for creating multilevel games.”

Collaborating online 

For the young coders to collaborate, the team created a Scratch Class with a Treehouse Challenge Studio for club members to upload their coded levels to. Instructional videos were added, members could use the Studio to leave comments, and the team could track the progress of the project too. 

Throughout the project, the team communicated with the young coders through instructional talk-through films, written guidance, and Zoom calls. 

The finished game 

Have fun playing the finished game and let the team at Leeds Libraries know what your favourite level was by tweeting @leedslibraries and using the hashtag #MyCodeClub

Level one of The 13-Storey Treehouse game

“Freya (12) and Lars (9) have really enjoyed it and it’s given them something to do and new skills to learn in lockdown. Lars says it’s ‘very, very, very fun’. He also used his Scratch projects to earn his Cubs Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge! Freya got really into her Harry Potter projects this week and had a lot of fun with them.” 

Freya and Lars sat on a sofa, Freya has a laptop on her lap. Both are smiling
Code Club members Freya and Lars

We asked the team for their top three highlights: 

  1. “The book acted as a real source of inspiration. It was a joy to see the crossover of reading and coding in action.” 
  2. “From drawing their backdrops to creating their own sprites and obstacles, the sheer creativity of club members amazed us!”
  3. “Adding that final block of code to complete the project and bring all their hard work together was very satisfying!” 

What’s next? 

Liam Garnett, librarian at Leeds Libraries, shares what they plan to do next: 

“We want to create animated stories using sprites from Leeds Museums and Galleries collections using their My Learning resources. Backdrops have been chosen from the Leeds Library and Information Service photographic archive, Leodis.”

Leeds Libraries’ online Code Clubs are sponsored by CityFibre. If you live in Leeds learn how you can take part in their online challenge.

If Leeds Libraries have inspired you to set up an online club, we have resources to support you. Take a look at our guidance for clubs or listen back to our community calls.

If you want to know more about Leeds Libraries’ online offer, contact Liam and Mark.