4th March 2016
Building digital skills in local communities with Code Club
The importance of digital skills, and the looming threat of the UK’s growing “skills gap”, has been grabbing headlines over the past few years. It’s helped inspire significant changes to the English National Curriculum, meaning that children aged 5 onwards are now being taught coding and computer science.
Yet there is still more that needs to be done to equip the next generation with the skills and passion to pursue computing in the future. Though today’s young children are seen as “digital natives”, many are primarily passive consumers of technology, rather than producers. It’s crucial to work to give children the opportunities to learn how to build and make things with computers and software, as well as having the skills to use them effectively.
Code Club is a not-for-profit working to help bring coding and digital skills into communities across the UK. We work with adult volunteers to help them go into schools, libraries and community centres to run free coding clubs for children aged 9-11. In the UK alone, we have a growing network of almost 4000 clubs running from Aberdeen to Truro.
Code Club provides everything that volunteers need to run their clubs, including training and support from our extensive community. Moreover, we provide projects which frame the content for each weekly Code Club session.
Our projects are easy to follow, giving children the opportunity to learn to make games, websites and animations using Scratch, HTML, CSS, and Python. The projects gradually introduce coding concepts to allow children to build their knowledge incrementally over the course of a term, meaning there’s also no need for the adult running the session to be a computing expert.
In fact, we believe that running a Code Club is a great way for adults to gain career-boosting digital skills. We’ve worked with a huge number of organisations, who have encouraged employees to volunteer with us, developing their confidence with coding and giving back to local communities. We’ve collaborated with big businesses such as Bloomberg and Morgan & Stanley, small local businesses, libraries, universities and community organisations.
One example of a recent successful local collaboration I have worked on personally is with Brian Bracher, Chief Service Officer for the Portsmouth City Council’s Social Action Team.
Together Code Club and Portsmouth’s Social Action Team have put in place a program which has seen the number of Code Clubs in Portsmouth rise from just two a year ago to sixteen today. We are looking at ways we can expand the program to get a Code Club into every school and library in the city over the next 12 months. Brian Bracher’s strategic overview, local knowledge, and contacts have been invaluable to the growth of Code Club locally and there is a great fit between what we do and the council’s digital strategy. There’s more about how we’ve worked together on post we wrote for the NESTA blog, you can read that here
Our aim in making such collaborations across the country is to empower people to become digital leaders in their communities, to inspire the next generation, and give every child the chance to learn to code, no matter what their background.
To find out more about Code Club, visit www.codeclub.org, and if you are interested in talking to a member of our team, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dan Powell, South-East Regional Coordinator, Code Club