At Code Club, we believe that all children should have the opportunity to learn to code, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Volunteer Stewart Watkiss has been a Code Club volunteer for six years and has always lived by this value. Recently he set up a Code Club at The Beacon Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Worcestershire.
A rewarding experience
In this blog, Stewart shares his five tips on running a Code Club at a PRU. A PRU caters for children who aren’t able to attend a mainstream school; these children often need greater care and support than mainstream education can provide.
Running the Code Club at the PRU has been one of my most rewarding experiences, seeing the smile on the children’s faces when their code ran on the micro:bit was magical.
– Stewart Watkiss, Code Club volunteer
Tip 1: Plan for your age group.
Code Clubs are usually for children aged 9 to 13, but in a PRU you may need to accommodate a different age range, in my case it was 7 to 11 year olds. With a varied age range, be prepared to offer more guidance and adapt your resources. Don’t be afraid to use teachers and teaching assistants as a resource too.
Tip 2: Be creative with your computing hardware.
If you or the PRU have access to additional hardware such as Bee-Bots or micro:bits these can be really useful. I used the Bee-Bots for the younger children, whilst teaching the older children how to get started with Scratch using Code Club projects. I then introduced micro:bits to all the children which was a great success.
Tip 3: Provide structure to the club.
Some of the children may have special education needs or disabilities and may find an unstructured club to be unsettling. Creating a routine within the club can help them know what to expect.
Tip 4: Prompt the children in advance of transitions.
As part of the structure let the children know when you are approaching the end of the session. Introduce a countdown at least 5 minutes before the end of the session. This will help the children adjust to the transition at the end of the club.
Tip 5: Make the session fun.
Finally, but most importantly, Code Club should be fun for the volunteer and the children! Making coding fun is a standard part of Code Club and although we have made our Code Club quite structured, it’s still very enjoyable for all.
Are you ready to inspire the next generation to code?
If Stewart has inspired you to set up a Code Club in a PRU continue the conversation with him on Twitter
If you’re in the UK, USA, or the Republic of Ireland, head to codeclub.org to find out how you get involved with Code Club in your community. If you’re based in the rest of the world, visit codeclubworld.org to learn more.