by Patrick Baglee, New York Editor
Clare Sutcliffe describes herself as a user experience designer and accidental social entrepreneur. The frustration she felt at how society regarded computer science, particularly as reflected in primary school education, and which led to her founding of Code Club, might well see her take a central place in the history of digital Britain. The idea has already won her a Digital Heroes award, and funding to further develop the programme.
Code Clubbers at a recent publicity film shoot
Born and raised in Yorkshire, Sutcliffe studied at Leeds College of Art and Design before graduating in Visual Communication and Print Design from Bath Spa University. She took her first job in advertising in London before switching to digital design after just 3 years.
Wired like Code Club
It was while based at Albion as a user experience designer that she founded Code Club (on a Monday afternoon) along with close friend Linda Sandvik. The Club is an attempt to redress an imbalance in the current curriculum which sees children spend the majority of their time learning how to use software, rather than developing an early understanding of how to produce or program it. The Clubs are run by developers and take place as after school sessions.
Coverage on the BBC, Guardian and Independent websites
Using ‘Scratch’, a programming language created at MIT with the specific purpose of allowing those with no understanding of code to quickly grasp its principles, Code Club began with 9 projects tested in 20 schools.
Code Club in action, Soho, London
In initial assessments of the Club’s success, children fed back that Code Club was ‘92% fun’. The Club continues to grow, and at the time of writing, Sutcliffe and Sandvik’s Monday afternoon idea is now a network of more than 450 Code Clubs in operation across the UK. Clare likes to draw with her eyes closed, and she lives in London.