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Q&A with Co-Founder & CEO of Code Club

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A former UX Designer, Clare Sutcliffe co-founded Code Club in 2012, a not-for-profit that creates projects for volunteers to teach 9-11 year-olds at after school coding clubs. There are now over 2,500 Code Clubs running in schools and community venues across the UK.


 
 
 

What is the philosophy on which Code Club is based?

Our goal is to inspire children to build and share their ideas as well as learning along the way. We want children to leave Code Club inspired to pursue other digital activities, whether that’s in their spare time, at school or as a career.

We want them to gain skills that are useful to them – not only learning to program but also learning about computational thinking, problem solving, designing, collaborating and sharing.

Do you feel there has been a watershed moment in the teaching of coding in schools?

Eric Schmidt’s speech back in 2011 was a call to action for educators and politicians – in it he described his shock at the fact Computer Science wasn’t being taught as standard in our schools. The interesting thing he said, which seems to have been a bit lost, is that we need to bring art and science back together if we are going to give people the tools to innovate.

Shortly after this, Michael Gove threw out the old ICT curriculum and preparations began for the new Computing curriculum. The old curriculum was often criticised for being boring and only encouraging use of software rather than understanding and creation.

I think this idea sells it slightly short – lots of teachers were doing great things, especially in terms of multimedia production. Overall I think the move towards teaching Computing is positive, as long as we remember there are three strands to it – Computer Science, Digital Literacy and Information Technology. It’s not just about “coding”.

What reactions have you gained from teachers and parents to the teaching of coding?

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about the new Computing curriculum. People think that if they teach children to code they will be covering it, when actually there is a lot more to it than that.

I think that once the language used in the programme of study is demystified then teachers are easy to reassure. They just need the time to have positive experiences with the tools they will be required to use and decent training. That’s why we have started Code Club Pro.

How do you see Code Club developing over the next few years?

Aside from growing our teacher training offering, we are always looking to increase the number of volunteers and clubs we have all over the UK and are currently growing our team to further support them. We are also focusing on building Code Club communities around the world.

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