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. 

Meet the children of Code Club learning to code from home

This year we’ve seen the curious minds of young coders rise to the challenge and adapt quickly to an online coding or virtual Code Club experience. Even if their Code Club has been paused, they’ve found clever ways to continue to develop their coding skills. 

Their resilience and creativity has shone through and it’s now time to hear what they’ve been working on and celebrate their achievements!   

Say hello to Luna 

Luna from the UK is 10 years old. During lockdown she’s been using her skills to teach her sister Skye to code. 

Here is how Luna introduced Skye to coding: 

“I gave Skye the first project I ever did to practise on when I first joined Code Club so she could see how it worked. I like to put together mini projects and experiment.”

Check out Luna’s project, it made the Code Club team smile a lot! 

Luna and Skye sat side by side at a kitchen table looking at a laptop

Hiya to Logan and Ryland!

Brother and sister Logan (10) and Ryland (8) are part of the CSI Code Club in the US. We asked Logan what new skill he learnt while taking part in his online Code Club: 

“I learnt how to make things bounce.”

Ryland who has recently taken up coding shared why she now loves to code: 

“I love coding because if I can do coding, I can design new things!”

Logan summed his Code Club up in three words: awesome, amazing, and creative.

Ryland said her Code Club leader was loving, caring, and helpful.

Ryaland and Logan are standing in the garden. Both smiling and Ryland has her arm over her brothers shoulder.

 مرحبا مصطفى  (Welcome Mustafa)

While at home Mustafa, aged 9 from Iraq, has enjoyed taking part in the Digital Making at Home activities as it helped him develop his coding skills. 

“Digital Making at Home is really amazing and I really enjoyed it.” 

With his dad Ali — who set up Al-Ayn Code Club — they set about recording Digital Making at Home projects in Arabic to make them accessible to their Code Club community. 

Mustafa is sat with his dad Ali at a table facing the camera. Both are wearing Code Club T-shirts and there is a laptop on the table.

Meet Xanti

Xanti, aged 9, has been attending the online Cranmere Code Club in the UK. Over the last three months, she’s worked on this maze project. We asked Xanti what inspired this project: 

“I have a friend who makes loads of maze projects and I wanted to give it a go, I couldn’t work out how to make the key unlock the door but I made a list and added the key.”

She describes Richard, her Code Club leader as funny, helpful, and imaginative.

Xanti is stood in her bedroom, she has a big smile on her face and a bow in her hair.

हेय रिचर्ड (Hey Richard!)

Richard, aged 14, attends Infant Jesus MHSS, Kalpakkam, in India. Richard loves creating with code: 

“I love creating animations and I feel like coding is my platform.”

When his club went online, it challenged him to learn more by himself:

“I learnt using variables more proficiently and also to use motion effects in the projects. I’m also learning to debug by myself.”

Richard is sat at his laptop working on a Scratch project.

Take a look at our club guidance, sign up for an upcoming community call, or watch back one of our recent webinars on topics from how to guide and engage your learners online, to introducing web development in your club. 

Don’t forget to share your Code Club stories with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and use the hashtag #MyCodeClub

Find out how Nicola from Australia has been delivering a club with a difference!

Over 10,000 miles away from UK HQ, Code Club Australia has entered a new phase of working as schools start to reopen. Nicola, the Programme Manager of Code Club Australia, caught up with  Lucia, the Head of Code Club UK and Ireland. She talked about what she has learnt from running an online club, and the impact that the lack of accessibility to digital devices and the internet is having on children’s learning. 

Setting the scene 

Code Club Australia has around 2000 clubs, half of these are based in schools and use the Code Club projects as part of the digital technology curriculum. A quarter of other clubs are in libraries, led by librarians and volunteers. 

During the eight-week lockdown, schools and libraries adopted new approaches and moved online to create meaningful spaces for learners to join and develop their digital making skills. 

Read about the online experiences of one library in South Australia. 

Supporting teachers 

Nicola was conscious of the pressures on teachers, moving from face-to-face teaching to home learning. To support this, Nicola now hosts an online Code Club. She calls into schools where children are spread out in several classrooms, as well as children coding from home. Nicola is delivering a club with a difference! 

“I was looking at other ways we could support the community and other ways we could continue to recruit volunteers whilst alleviating the pressure to set up a volunteer with a school and any safeguarding concerns.” 

Nicola kicks off each coding session by inviting a guest speaker to talk to the coders about a topic. Keeping within the theme, she then showcases a coding project for the class to work on. This session is recorded and hosted on YouTube to allow teachers to use the resource in their coding sessions. 

Watch this inspired session with guest speaker Rami from Space Australia, who sets the theme for a space coding project. 

Creating an equal learning environment 

Unesco has said 1.6 billion learners across the world have been impacted by school closures to help curb the spread of coronavirus. One of the biggest barriers to home learning has been lack of access to the internet or digital devices at home. 

Australia is no different. Outside of cities and in regional areas, the lack of access is very real. Research completed by Telstra estimates that 14% of houses do not have access to the internet, and this disproportionately affects families who are from Indigenous communities, speak a language other than English, or live in regional and remote areas. Telstra has been helping bridge this gap by providing connectivity to an additional 20,000 students for free when learning moved online.

Nicola has been making sure that no one misses out on learning opportunities, she sees Moonhack as a perfect example of a programme that can bring people together.

Moonhack is a free international event that brings together kids from across the world for a week of coding! This year 34,170 kids coded planet-saving solutions, and Nicola told us why this is such an engaging programme for those with limited access: 

“One of the reasons we have Moonhack online and why the Code Club projects are great is that they require low internet connectivity and the device doesn’t have to be complicated. They can just jump in and have a go!”

Take a look at some of this year’s submissions and the data breakdown.

Nicola also recognises the opportunities that running clubs online can bring to the programme; she hopes that they can help her reach communities in areas that are far away so that there is regular interaction:

“I want to make sure that those [online] offerings are just as valuable as our face-to-face ones.” 

The power of offline projects 

Along with Moonhack, Nicola and the team are adopting new approaches to make sure children with limited connectivity and accessibility have meaningful offline coding experiences. 

The team has been looking at offline projects and the important role they play in developing children’s computational thinking, thought processes, and problem-solving skills: 

“Schools want equity amongst their students, they want to share an equivalent offline resource if their students are unable to take part in an online session. 

It may even be so in line with the content that’s being taught online, that we build a worksheet that looks like Scratch, a print out of Scratch blocks where you physically build the program with the blocks”. 

Just jump in

Lucia saw how Code Club Australia had risen to the challenge, and adopted new approaches to support the Code Club community. She just had one final question for Nicola: What would you say to a teacher who was thinking of setting up their Code Club online? 

“My message is always that coding is not as hard as you think it’s going to be! And, you can do it! That message is still the same for online clubs, just jump in and have a go! It is worth it, the kids still love it, and they’re still engaged and their experiences are fundamentally very very similar to teaching face to face!”

If Code Club Australia has inspired you to set up an online club, we have resources to support you. Take a look at our club guidance or listen back to the community call series. 

To keep up to date on Code Australia, follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page.