Students and school pupils buddy up for coding club initiative

Date 7.02.2019

Students and staff from the University of Northampton are buddying up with secondary school pupils at a series of computer coding clubs across the town.

Code clubs for Year 7 and 8s have been set up at three Northampton schools, with each having University staff and student coding buddies present, to help the pupils to raise their coding skills.

While the school pupils get to bolster their computing knowledge, the students get to develop their leadership and communication skills which help to give their CVs a boost.

The clubs also form part of a wider University programme which aims to raise the attainment of pupils at schools in communities with lower-than-expected progression rates into university

Schools hosting the code clubs, which are supported by the University, include Thomas Becket Catholic School, Boothville, Weston Favell Academy and Northampton International Academy (NIA).

NIA pupil, Aisha Hussain, has been attending the code club, and said: “We did a little bit of coding at primary school and I really enjoyed it, but I would have liked to have done more.

“So when I heard about the coding club I wanted to join and I am really enjoying it. The code buddies are really nice, and very helpful.”

Code buddy Andreas Thiersa, who is a final year International Accounting student, feels the experience has a number of positive benefits.

He said: “Working with the school pupils has been really inspiring for me. We’ve been able to learn from each other. They are building up their skills in logical thinking, while I have been impressed with their creativity and different way at looking at things. It’s helped to open my mind to the fact everybody is worth listening to, as everybody has a different perspective.”

Fellow code buddy, Ella Smith-Gibbs, who works in the University’s Student Records department, said: “Being a code buddy has been really beneficial, not only for my personal development, but also my professional development as it equips me with new skills and is helping to broaden my horizons, career-wise.

“The pupils have been brilliant and I’ve really enjoyed supporting them and giving them some guidance.”

Tim Marston, headteacher at Northampton International Academy, said: “By teaming up once again with the University of Northampton, it’s fantastic that we are able to offer our young people a chance to develop their IT and coding skills.

“By working with the university students, it also enables our pupils to learn more about higher education and can raise aspirations amongst those who might not otherwise have considered going to university.”

Dr Scott Turner, Associate Professor and Principal Lecturer in Computing at the University, said: “This is a great opportunity for the University, and helps to demonstrate to our students and school pupils that computing is enjoyable, relevant and something they can do.”

Linda Davis-Sinclair, Schools Engagement Lead at the University, added: “The programme is part of a number of initiatives that aim to measure the impact on pupils’ learning and encourage them to explore the wide variety of careers and study opportunities open to them in the future. Our own students benefit too as it develops skills that they would not normally get in the classroom, and provides them with opportunities to be good role models in the schools.”