Code Playground: from the beginning

10 September 2021

Code Playground, run by Barclays Digital Eagles, helps children learn the basics of coding via interactive online sessions and videos, supported by workbooks and lesson plans.

Code Playground is completely free for teachers, parents, carers and children to use. Our full range of resources is available on the Barclays Code Playground website.

We caught up with Kev Garner, Head of Code Playground, to find out what you can look forward to this school year.

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“We’re really excited to bring back our monthly online sessions for schools: every month of the school year we’ll be holding a week-long series of sessions linked to the national computing curriculum for Key Stage 2.

During our coding weeks, we hold multiple sessions so schools can join at a time that best suits their schedule - and teachers can join with different classes on different days or times, so it’s ideal where there is a larger year group or where devices are limited.

Our first block of sessions will start Monday, 13 September, which is also National Coding Week.

We’ll be kicking the school year off with our ‘Sequencing level 1’ sessions, they’re a great place for anyone to get started with coding.”

Secure your space now.

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After school club

Alongside our coding weeks we also run a virtual Code Playground after school club, which is held every Tuesday at 15:30 and every Thursday at 16:00. At our after school clubs, children have the opportunity to create more complex projects, sometimes over a period of several weeks.

Book your place at our after school club.

To find out more about Code Playground visit our website.

We’d love you to speak to your child’s school about Code Playground and help them to take advantage of this free resource.

For Teachers

  • Head to the website to have a look at our workbooks, lesson plans and teacher guides to help you introduce coding into your classroom
  • Book on to our Code Playground sessions, starting Monday, 13 September
  • Share details of Code Playground with your colleagues, in your local school network, Multi Academy Trust or parent groups.
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How did Code Playground begin?

Code Playground started in 2015, after we were invited to Ireland to attend DojoCon- a convention about CoderDojo, a worldwide network of code clubs run by volunteers.

CoderDojo speakers explained that they had loads of great content to help children get started with coding but were struggling with locations to deliver it.

We started to hold CoderDojo sessions in branches across the UK and the CoderDojo team were thrilled that their content was finding a home. They helped us develop our first Code Playground project – the Shark Game – and the rest is history.

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To help deliver Code Playground sessions across the country, we started a national training programme, to upskill colleagues. In the first year alone, over 2,500 sessions were held.

We even had our own TV adverts.

In 2018, we launched our very first Code Playground Live session. Schools across the country were invited to join and take part in our coding session, which was broadcast, live, on YouTube.

You can watch all the sessions here.

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Code Playground’s recent history

Kev filled us in on how Code Playground has evolved over the last 18 months:

“During the first lockdown we wanted to support parents and teachers with home-schooling, so we changed things around and started producing video sessions similar to our Code Playground Live. They were shared on YouTube and through our social media channels. We created over 50 videos: some code along sessions, some bite-size learning and some more advanced coding challenges.”

You can view them all here. 

“Following the initial lockdown, we launched our new Code Playground website to help teachers and pupils everywhere access and use our resources, at any time - whether at home or in the classroom.

All of the teacher guides and lesson plans were created specifically for the website and are linked to the Key Stage 2 curriculum. There’s lots to choose from and something to suit lots of different abilities.

In the second lockdown, we started to look at providing interactive sessions and piloted our online sessions using a video meeting service to connect directly to the classroom. After some feedback – and ironing out a few teething problems - we were ready to launch the sessions.

When the third lockdown was announced at the beginning of 2021 we had to quickly change tack again, sticking with the idea for online sessions, but hosting three each weekday from January until UK schools re-opened on 8 March. We ran 94 sessions across the seven-week period, and had over 2000 happy coders joining the sessions.

It’s my pleasure and privilege to lead on Code Playground and I’m proud of the work we’re able to do to support teachers and parents to help children develop the skills they’ll need to thrive in the future.”

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Visit the Code Playground website

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