Teaching professionals, business owners and volunteers gathered at the National Cyber Skills Centre (NCSC) Malvern recently to pledge their support for teaching primary school children computer coding.
Code Club is a ‘not-for-profit’ nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs aimed at 9 – 11 year olds. The fun learning activity devised to teach primary school children computer coding was developed in London, where it quickly took off. As a result there are now 2148 Code Clubs in the UK, with 30,000 children participating including over 200 clubs in the Midlands area. This is a number that is on the increase as schools, businesses and other interested parties are working hard in South Worcestershire to encourage a much wider take-up.
The recent Code Club event was led by John Palmer, Faculty Leader for IT & Business at The Chase, Malvern, who is also the West Midlands Regional Coordinator for Computing at Schools (CAS). He attended a similar Code Club networking event in 2013 at our premises in Diglis and was inspired by the after school club’s learning outcomes.
In the short time lapse between our event at Postcode Anywhere and the changes to the school curriculum, Code Club’s value as a learning activity has naturally received much approbation in teaching circles. Substituting the subject of ICT for computing science has been a decision welcomed by both teaching professionals and technology business owners as reflected in Code Club’s increased take up, as confirmed by representative Michael Mentessi, who also attended the session.
As an IT teaching professional in a secondary school John Palmer has established connections with many of the local feeder primary schools in the Malvern area. He has used his influence and enthusiasm to promote Code Club within education circles as well as forging strong links with local technology companies and therefore delighted with the interest and commitment that the Malvern event generated.
He said: “The event presented an opportunity for people involved in Code Club to share both best practice and learning resources with each other. It has also created the opportunity for interested parties such as teaching professionals and potential volunteers who would like to get involved in Code Club to find out a little more about it.
“The commitment to Code Club in the Malvern area has been phenomenal with ten local primary schools now participating in the after school activity. The support from local business such as Malvern Instruments, Borwell, QinetiQ and UTC Aerospace has been very strong, and they realise that we must work in partnership to nurture the next generation of Malvern’s brilliant brains to ultimately enable the UK to compete with the rest of the world.”
The event was a huge success with technology businesses in general voicing concern over a future skills shortage. Managing director of secure software experts Borwell, Steve-Borwell Fox, a committed Code Club advocate, spoke on the importance of encouraging young people to consider careers in the technology sector where there is a recognised skills deficit.
Code Club champion Rob Bilsland who is a volunteer at Malvern Wells Primary School was amongst the delegates attending. Rob is also a member of Code Club Pro, Code Club’s training division. He delivered an impassioned presentation on his experience as a volunteer and urged other people with technical expertise to get involved with the after school code clubs.
He said: “Learning coding also teaches children other skills such as breaking tasks down and step-by-step strategies for problem solving that can be easily transferred into other areas. Being able to run a Code Club is a very rewarding activity and one I would encourage others to do.”