Our Thinking
An interview with a Code Club volunteer
17 October 2018 | Posted by Rachel George

The Kainos Academy gives people a chance to create. Innovate. Explore. Play. Share new ideas and notions. Inspire themselves and one another at any age or stage. Whether they’re a school student with big dreams, an entrepreneur with grand plans, or a digital professional with high hopes.

We share our knowledge in outreach programs and events to fuel digital inspiration.  We provide training to teach new skills, expertise to develop existing talents, and a chance to try out new things and get involved in hands-on learning.

One of the organisations we work with is Code Club, a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. Each year, many of our staff volunteer to run one of these clubs, visiting a local school of their choice one afternoon a week for 10-12 weeks, together dedicating hundreds of hours a year to this fantastic organisation.

Martin is one of our longest-standing volunteers, originally getting involved because he saw an appetite for this at his daughter’s school. We asked him a few questions on his experience.

Why did you decide to run a CodeClub?

A few people in the office had already signed up and were actively running Code Clubs. When I heard how positively they were speaking about it, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.  I also had been looking for the opportunity to do something for our local primary school.  Schools are stretched these days – teachers do not have the industry experience and skills that we do, so if I could help do something to alleviate this, then it was a no-brainer really.

What was your experience of running a Code Club like?

Initially, I was really nervous – those first couple of lessons were challenging. 18 children per lesson with five or six hands up at the same time, I was spinning round the classroom like horses on a carousel!  Over time, as the children got more familiar with the software (Scratch) and more confident in their on abilities, it settled down and was very enjoyable.  As I run more Code Club sessions, I’ve learned how to make those first few sessions a bit easier for myself – simple things like:

    • getting the pupils to bring a pencil and tick off each task once they’ve completed it
    • do the very first lesson with the pupils one step at a time, making sure no-one gets left behind
    • a five minute recap at the start of each lesson on what we learned last week, what we found easy and what we found difficult.

Students experiment with Scratch

What did the participants think of the experience?

The children love it. They come running in at the start of lessons and cant wait to get going. After the first few weeks, the Scratch projects that they work on are ‘game based’ and this is when they really get excited about it.  When the school bell rings for the end of the lesson, meaning that’s is either break time or dinner time, they just sit there working away and you have to end up telling them to save their work and log off!

In my experience, the teachers also enjoy the Code Club sessions too – while they have done some basic Scratch work with their pupils, they really appreciate the expertise and skills that we have to offer and are really surprised with the complexity of what can be achieved in Scratch. To be honest, if we were allowed, I know the school that I work with at the minute would have me or someone like me there one full day a week!

Did you enjoy it?

My half day running Code Club is my favourite part of my working week. I go in smiling and I leave smiling. In fact, I would say that I enjoy it more than the pupils do! When you see them getting excited about a spaceship moving from one side of the screen to the other you cant help but feel good, and think “I taught them that”. It’s rewarding and something a bit different from my day job. I’d really encourage others in the industry to get involved.

Find a Code Club near you.

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