In early 2017 The Scottish Library and Information Council coordinated a programme of training for public library staff to deliver coding sessions to young people. Today, all of Scotland’s public library services run Code Clubs aimed at children ages between nine and 11.
Coding skills are now a core component of computing science and increasingly being sought after. Many of today’s jobs require some degree of coding and demand for these skills will only increase as technology becomes more entrenched in society.
The Code Club Project aims to expose young people to coding skills in a way that is fun and engaging. By having a games-based focus and collaborative feel, the clubs enable children to develop confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills.
Code Clubs take the form of weekly one-hour sessions, held either after school or at weekends during term time, for a minimum for 12 weeks. Some library services also offer Code Clubs during the summer holidays. The ultimate aim is to make Code Clubs a standard part of the public library offer in Scotland.
This links directly with the strategic aims of Ambition & Opportunity, Scotland’s strategy for public libraries, which highlights the role of libraries in delivering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities to support digital inclusion and economic wellbeing.
SLIC trained over 150 public library staff from 31 of Scotland’s public library services in the basics of two coding languages – Scratch and Python – during special one-day training sessions. SLIC partnered with Code Club (Scotland) to coordinate the programme of training, a charitable organisation which supports coding clubs for young people aged 9-11 years.
Up to five members of staff from each local authority were able to attend, equipping them with the essential skills needed to deliver their own Code Club programme.
Now, there are over 74 Code Clubs in operation with over 50 additional locations set to join the Code Club map over the summer.
Delivering Code Clubs in public libraries throughout Scotland has established SLIC as a key provider of coding skills instruction for young people across Scotland.
Library staff have also developed new skills – enhancing both performance and confidence in supporting digital skills development. For young people, it is a chance to learn in an inclusive and friendly environment where all are welcome. This in turn increases self-esteem and ultimately employability.
Young people participating in the code clubs also complete a short survey at the beginning and end of the 12-week programme in order to gauge its impact on their perceptions of the computer science/digital technologies sector.
The Code Club Project was made possible through Scotland’s Digital Xtra Fund. Digital Xtra was launched in May 2016 and is funded by the Scottish Government Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. The project strongly supports the fund’s key objectives - increasing both the number of young people participating in computer science related activities and the number of venues across Scotland offering this type of provision.