Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been commissioned by Code Club UK and National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (Nesta) to run an evaluation of Code Clubs in England. Code Clubs are offered to year 5 and 6 pupils in primary schools and there are currently around 2,300 clubs with 70 setting up each month. Code Clubs usually run for an hour a week after school for up to 15 children. They can be run by a volunteer with computer science knowledge, or by teachers themselves. Code Clubs teach children Scratch, HTML & CSS, and Python and children learn to programme by making games, animations, websites and applications. The evaluation involves running a study that looks at differences in computational thinking, coding skills, attitudes to coding and soft/transferable skills between children who attend a Code Club for three terms compared to children that don’t attend a Code Club.
Who can participate?
Primary schools in England who have the resources to run a Code Club and a sufficient number of children in year 4 who wish to participate in Code club in year 5 and have not already taken part in a Code Club.
What does the study involve?
During the spring and summer terms of 2015, schools are recruited into the trial and are asked to send NFER details of pupils who wish to participate in Code Club. Pupils take three initial (baseline) assessments in September 2015. The assessments include: the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge, a Coding Quiz developed by Code Club UK with the support of the University of Roehampton and NFER, and a Pupil Attitude Survey developed by NFER. The Pupil Survey assesses pupils’ attitudes and aspirations towards computing and coding and their perceptions of their transferable or ‘soft’ skills. Upon completion of the assessments pupils are randomly allocated to one of two groups – intervention or control. Pupils in the intervention group attend Code Club for three terms during the academic year 2015/16. Once these three terms are complete, all pupils (control and intervention) take the three assessments again. After this, children in the control group are offered a place in Code Club for the academic year 2016/17. The study also aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the delivery of Code Clubs, including key success factors, challenges and the impact they have on pupils. This includes in-depth telephone interviews with teachers from ten schools and the completion of a qualitative proforma (questionnaire) by the remaining schools. Teachers are also required to complete a Teacher Log on a weekly basis, providing details of the Code Club session delivered and an attendance register of pupils.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Schools who participate have the opportunity to attend training run by Code Club UK on teaching national curriculum coding modules. This will take place after the trial is completed.
Where is the study run from?
Up to 35 primary schools in England (UK)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
February 2015 to July 2016
Who is funding the study
National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (UK)
Who is the main contact?
Dr Susie Bamford
A randomised controlled trial on the impact of code clubs
The study will analyse the differences on 3 outcome measures between children in year 5 who attend Code Club for three terms and children who do not attend Code Club. We will measure differences on the following:
1. Children's computational thinking
2. Children's coding skills
3. Children's attitudes to coding and soft/transferable skills
Our hypothesis is that attending Code Club for 3 terms will positively impact on all three measures when comparing intervention children to control group children.
Internal ethical approval received on 17/03/2015
Pupil-randomised controlled efficacy trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet
This study is exploring the educational benefits and transferable skills of attending Code Club on year 5 primary pupils
Through an RCT design, pupils will be allocated to an intervention group or a control group.
1. The intervention arm consists of attending code club (a weekly after school club that runs for one hour) for 3 terms. During these terms children will be taught modules in Scratch, HTML & CSS, and Python. The teachers will fill out an attendance log for the class to record how many sessions each child attended.
2. The control group will not attend code club for this academic year and will instead remain on a "treatment as usual" path. At the end of the trial these children will be offered a place in code club.
During the trial, NFER will carry out a process evaluation consisting of a teacher proforma and telephone interviews with the code club lead teacher to monitor adherence to the trial.
Primary outcome measure
Bebras Computational Thinking Assessment in September 2015 and three terms later
Secondary outcome measures
1. Coding quiz
2. Attitude survey
Assessed in September 2015 and three terms later
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
Schools were recruited to the trial if they met the following criteria:
1. Primary school in England
2. Could recruit sufficient number of pupils to the trial > 20 who were at the end of year 4 and who would like to join Code Club at the start of year 5 and who hadn't taken part in Code Club before.
3. Able to run a code club between September 2015 and July 2016 for the pupils assigned to the intervention group.
4. Willing and able to run a Code Club between September 2016-July 2017 for the control group
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Schools in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
2. Schools that don't have resources to run a Code Club
3. Pupils who have attended Code Club before
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
National Foundation for Educational Research
National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Basic results (scientific)
2017 results in: https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/CODE01/