Today we’re welcoming to the blog one of our partners, Code Club, who are a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. We first started working with them in January 2013 when our Imperial Hub was looking for digital and technology volunteering projects for the STEM-focussed Imperial students. Code Club was a no-brainer – we already had strong school relationships, thanks to our Schools Plus tutoring programme, and direct access to our network of 30,000 enthusiastic students. Since then, we’ve set up 14 Code Clubs with over 30 different volunteers reaching more than 200 children. We’re now promoting this opportunity in more cities because we know that it’s great for student volunteers, primary school pupils and the schools as well. We’ve already had over 60 student applications for Code Clubs in Bristol and Southampton alone, so clearly this is a project to watch!
Growing up in a high unemployment area of North Manchester, David Barker’s dream as a child was a career in technology. After seeing a careers advisor he was told to lower his aspirations: “I was told that certain careers were not open to me because of my social background and that I should aim for retail”. Thankfully when he was 13, David decided to teach himself to code in his bedroom, which he now thinks ‘saved his life’.
At Code Club, we know coding skills can open up new opportunities for the future. We run vital after school weekly coding sessions for children aged 9-11, which take place in schools, community centres and libraries across the UK. David left school at 16 as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET); despite this, his decision to learn to code got him an apprenticeship with an educational software company that designed and produced games.
David went on to launch one of the first UK internet companies and at 44 now works with schools for the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. He said: “I heard about old school friends who also left school at 16; some had drifted into crime, long-term unemployment and prison. I feel if they had the opportunity to develop their skills with initiatives such as Code Club, maybe they would have found inspirational careers, employment and the chance to have a productive and rewarding life”.
In 2015 we’re now looking for students like you to share skills and learn to code along with the next generation. You can help inspire children and give them the opportunity to learn coding skills, no matter who they are or where they come from. At the same time, you can improve your own skills, gaining experience that will look great on your CV. Here’s what one student said of his experience:
“I really enjoy being part of Code Club because I get the opportunity to share my knowledge with others. I didn’t know any HTML before I started running my club, so I actually got to teach myself something useful as well! As a busy student, volunteering with a club gives you the chance to leave work aside for a moment, and work on your communication skills, patience and social engagement.”
Abbas Tutcuoglu, Imperial College. Read more from Abbas here.
Increasingly, employers are looking for graduates who can help plug a growing digital skills gap – in 2013, a report by O2 revealed that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017. Volunteering for Code Club and developing your knowledge of coding and computational thinking can offer a massive boost to your CV. It will also show future employees you are responsible and committed, and that you are able to complete projects.
If you would like to volunteer with Code Club this term, visit the Code Club website and check out our volunteer role description to see what’s involved. If you’re a student at one of the following universities, make sure to visit the Bristol, Imperial, Kingston or Southampton Hub websites.