Not quite beginners: learning to code with Croydon Tech City

By - Tuesday 10th March, 2015

Edmund Jones reports on being the youngest guinea pig for Croydon’s digital future

Photo by Liz Sheppard-Jones, used with permission.

It may be because I’m a child, but I’m used to knowing when my lessons begin and end. There’s a bell, which makes things very clear, and we have to stand up when the teacher comes in. No-one did any of that on Sunday evening, February 15th, at Matthew’s Yard, at the first free coding class for people in Croydon. My mum had explained that this was a great opportunity to build on what I’ve been learning at school, and I know what an important skill coding is for my future. Next year I’ll be studying technology as what is called in my school a ‘twilight’ subject, meaning that it’s taught after school hours. The course will be fast-moving, so I want to make sure I have a strong grasp of the basics.

The atmosphere was informal but the work was quite hard

I like Matthew’s Yard and the workspace is very cool. I met Jonny Rose, one of the founders of Croydon Tech City, who welcomed us and made an announcement at the start that this was the first free coding class organised by Tech City, so we were guinea pigs. Then we were very briefly introduced to our teachers, Ahmed and Assius from Coder Course, who explained how to log on and follow instructions to build a website using Ruby On Rails. So for me it didn’t really feel enough like a lesson.

The atmosphere was informal and it was easy to get the attention of the teachers and ask questions, but the work was quite hard. I didn’t feel sure what Ruby on Rails would be used for, as I’ve never learned it at school, and I needed more information. I created some pages of a website and put in hyperlinks to other pages. Looking around, I don’t think that many of the people in the class on Sunday were beginners because beginners would have been more confused and would have needed more help and explanation of the basics.

It’s definitely made me want to learn more

So (a little nervously) the youngest guinea pig has some suggestions:

I think most people already knew other coding languages, so next time the teachers need to find out at the beginning from everyone in the class what they already know and what they are hoping to learn. I also think that mixing adults and children is quite tricky. I was the youngest person in the class and I felt more lost than the others.

But it was amazing to just turn up and have a free lesson. It makes me realise that I’m lucky to live in a forward-looking place like Croydon and I definitely want to learn more. I think that free classes in tech skills like this are a brilliant idea. I have friends who are very good at coding and I’m sure they would be interested in future courses to develop their skills.

You can sign up to Croydon Tech City’s forthcoming community classes here.

Edmund Jones

Edmund Jones

Edmund is in year 11 at Archbishop Tenison's School, Croydon. He is a school house captain, enjoys travelling and playing chess, is a film enthusiast and has represented his school at swimming.

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  • Anne Giles

    Excellent article.

  • Simon Tomes

    A fantastic write-up Edmund! So glad you want to learn more. Croydon Tech City is always here to support you and your mates.

  • Rosie E

    Yay to Forward-looking Croydon and free coding. Great to hear about this.

  • Sonoo Singh

    Hi, Jonny Rose. I’m planning to take my 8 yr old to London to do a few coding classes, and only just discovered that Croydon itself has these classes to offer. When is the next class and where? thanks.
    And congratulations on setting this up. Promise to spread the word around.