#Croydon #TechCity: Why you should volunteer to run a code club

By - Thursday 15th August, 2013

Graham Kent explains why he heeded Code Club’s call to arms, and why joining in will be the best thing you do this year


In the spring of 2013 I volunteered to run a code club at Ridgeway Primary school in South Croydon where my eldest daughter is a pupil. Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. I’d been searching for a volunteering opportunity in the local area that appropriately used my IT skills, and when I discovered Code Club I was immediately enthused by the possibility. Moreover as the father of two young girls I’m extremely keen to ensure that their development and learning is based around things like this, and I liked Code Club’s attitude to making girls a major part of the IT future.

Signing up for Code Club is a simple process; you do need to do a CRB check if you haven’t got one already, but this is a relatively simple and streamlined process nowadays. Once all the admin had been done with the school, to kick the club off I went into a year 5 assembly and did a small demo of what we’d be doing in the after school club and then offered the children a chance for questions. I was overwhelmed with their enthusiasm and the sign up list for the club was also overwhelmed that week when we opened it for that term.

The club itself ran in the summer term at Ridgeway and it has to be one of the most fulfilling and gratifying experiences I’ve had in recent years. The children were so excited and enthusiastic for the entire term, and it was amazing to watch their coding skills grow over the course of the term, especially as the majority of them started from nothing. They learnt about all manner of basic programming principles over just a few short weeks, topics such as variables, control flow, and operators, to name but a few. The credit for this must go to the code club organisation themselves, as they’ve spent a lot of time designing a wonderful syllabus which volunteers simply download. This is the key point to think about if you’re considering volunteering yourself, in that the amount of preparation time required is so dramatically reduced by the quality of the syllabus and the downloadable lesson packs, that it was entirely possible for me to fit it into my already hectic schedule of work and family life. It took me about one hour of prep time per week and then I’d just simply turn up and run the class.

When the term came to a close and I had to say goodbye to all the children, I was a little sad as I’d come to enjoy my weekly coding with them so much, and was really going to miss watching their development. The good news though is that I’ll be back there next term, but there are many other schools in the borough who don’t currently have volunteers in place, so if you’d like to get involved I know that there are many schools crying out for volunteers. I can’t recommend it enough, it’ll be the best thing you do this year.

Currently enjoying a summer recess, Croydon Tech City’s ‘main event’ will be reconvening on Thursday September 19th at 7:30pm at Matthews Yard. To attend, please sign up here or .

For all other enquiries about Croydon Tech City, please .

Graham Kent

Graham Kent

Technical team leader and manager with a background in SQL Server and Microsoft architecture, currently living in London, misses being in Stockholm

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