Friday, 7 August 2015

Code Clubs for Kids - UK Edition

I recently helped out at the YRS Festival of Code and speaking to one parent afterwards, I realised not everyone is aware of the different code clubs available for their kids to learn computer programming.

We have put together a list of code clubs available in the UK. The list is not exhaustive and with interest in this area growing, new clubs spring up all the time. This list highlights organisations that facilitate local clubs, so you'd need to check their website for a club in your area.

Many local volunteers run events and clubs that are not necessarily associated with any of the below mentioned organisations. If you search for code clubs, maker clubs, maker spaces, science clubs in your area, you may be lucky to find something. There are definitely some hotspots in the country where there are more opportunities for kids.

Most of the clubs are volunteer led and each will have its own flavour depending on the skills of the volunteers involved. There seem to be two types of clubs, ones run after school at your child's school and will be run by either teachers or external volunteers; the other take place on a weekend for a few hours and generally involve parents taking part too.

I help run a local code club, and we've mashed up Coder Dojo and YRS Hyperlocal in one meetup, to open up to a wider audience. Our club runs on a Saturday afternoon, once a month and we encourage parents to join in. We have a wide range of parents, some are working in the tech industry, and some have no knowledge of the technology opportunities. It is my experience that both types have a great time, especially enjoying the quality time spent with their kids.

Coder Dojo
Coder Dojo is a global network of free computer programming clubs for young people.

These clubs are run by volunteers, and teach children from 7 - 17 how to code and write computer programmes. They are free and teach kids about many aspects of technology in an informal and creative way. Each dojo will have it's own unique flavour based on the volunteers running it. Kids may learn to make a digital game, website or mobile apps. Dojos also offer a badge system, which encourages kids to return on a regular basis and move up the ranks. The dojos are open source to encourage growth of the movement globally.

This is a great club if your kid wants to learn how to code.

Code Club
Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

They are generally run at primary or junior schools as a hour after school club. If your kid's school doesn't have a code club they can apply to have one on the website. The organisation provides material which the volunteer lead uses to teach computer programming through making games, websites or animation. Scratch is a very popular platform used in Code Clubs, however every code club may have it's own flavour based on the skills of the lead.

Look out for this club at your local school, or ask if you can attend one held at another school in your area.

YRS Hyperlocal
A Global community of digital makers aged 18 and under. (

The YRS Hyperlocal is an extension of the YRS Festival of Code. It gives young people the opportunity to continue to meet during the year to work on projects started at the festival. The meetups are free and with the help of volunteer mentors, they can continue to develop their coding skills, collaborate and design solutions for social good. Although YRS are aimed at all coders under 18, I have found they are well suited to the 12 - 18 year old computer programmer with some experience.

YRS Hyperlocals only started in November 2014, check out the website to find a Hyperlocal near you.

Barclays Code Playground
Coding's going to be taking us all somewhere new. And the people who'll be taking us there are the kids of today.

The Barclays Digital Eagles organise Code Playgrounds in selected Barclays Bank branches across the country. They are free to attend and you can request a session, if there is not one local in your area. They are aimed at 7 - 17 year olds with no computer programming knowledge. It depends on the Digital Eagles running the session on whether it is simply a taster session or a regular monthly club. Their promotional website has some fun features which you can programme in your browser and see what happens when you change the code.

Fuse Clubs
Ideal platform for learning and teaching computational thinking and computer programming

The FUZE Basic is a programmable computer that works with a Raspberry Pi, to aid the teaching of computer programming. The company offers programming workshops for schools and code clubs.

Stem Clubs
STEM Clubs are a powerful and highly enjoyable way to engage school students with STEM (science, technology, engineering or maths)subjects.

STEM Clubs are aimed at secondary school kids and run as out of curriculum clubs either during lunch or after school.  Not all schools offer STEM Clubs, but if your child is interested in any of the STEM subjects it is worth asking the school to join a STEM club.  The clubs are supported nationally by STEMNET offering advice and guidance on setting up clubs, activity ideas, how to sustain your club, how to get businesses and scientists and engineers involved.

First Lego League
FIRST® LEGO® League is a global science and technology challenge for teams of students.

FIRST® LEGO® League to encourage an interest in real world issues and develop key skills that are crucial for their future careers.

FLL is for young people aged 9 to16 years, working in teams of up to ten students with a supporting adult coach. Each year FLL releases a new challenge for the teams. The challenge involves a robot game and a research project, and students will need to demonstrate the FLL core values throughout all their work.

Teams have ten to twelve weeks during the autumn term to work on the challenge before they compete in their chosen Regional Tournament.

Ask your local school if they enter students into the FLL Challenge.

Mozilla Clubs
The Global Web Literacy Movement

Mozilla Clubs doesn't appear to be established in the UK, although they offer a great teaching resource and ethos.  They aim to grow the web literacy of learners and encourage open practices such as using open source code and open source data.  They believe kids learn through making and so offer "Maker Party" through volunteer-led centres to aid learning of computer programming.

Raspberry Jams (Pi)

Raspberry Jams are events organised by the community to share knowledge, learn new things, and meet other Pi enthusiasts. They’re a great way to find out more about the Raspberry Pi and what you can do with it, and to find like-minded people.  There are quite a few meetups in the UK and you can visit their website to find one in your local area.  Often the local code club / coder dojo will run a specific session on Raspberry Pi.

All of the above mentioned clubs are free to attend and lead by volunteers.  In some cases there may be a nominal fee to cover expenses of gadgets.  The tech community is highly motivated to transfer skills to the young generation, to become the creative digital makers of our future.

More from Tech Age Kids:


Post a Comment