Best friends Charlie and Robin bring kids coding Dojo to Hemel

A brand-new coding centre for kids, Code Ninjas Hemel Hempstead, has launched to support local children with tech and coding skills.
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Through hands-on learning, children aged 5-14 are taught how to code by creating their own games. Run by two best friends, Robin Theakston and Charlie Gunn, Code Ninjas provides a facility for kids to learn exciting new skills in a fun and inspiring environment.

The new business comes at a time when digital technology is driving extraordinary global changes that some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The national curriculum makes it clear that computing is needed at key stages one to four and that ‘a high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world’1. However, a recent Ofsted report found that the typical time given to computing at school is inadequate to equip children with even the most fundamental of tech skills.

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“Between us, we have five children – I have two boys, aged seven and ten, and a daughter who is 11,” said Charlie. “I’ve spent much of my career working in finance which, like most sectors over the course of the last decade, has become very reliant on technology. It’s obvious to me that our kids’ lives will be improved by understanding how coding works. The future is exciting, but our children need to be prepared. We want to help give children all the tools they need to succeed.”

The Code Ninjas Dojo at The Marlowes Shopping CentreThe Code Ninjas Dojo at The Marlowes Shopping Centre
The Code Ninjas Dojo at The Marlowes Shopping Centre

“A key motivator for launching this business together is our desire to create a different experience for children living locally,” added Robin. “There are so many after-school clubs and weekend camps out there for children that have a passion for sport or the arts, but nothing that encourages a love of coding and Computer Science. We want to support local children to feel confident in their own digital abilities. As a dad of two, it’s something I feel particularly passionate about.”

As you can imagine, Code Ninjas like to do things a little differently. Students are called Ninjas, the teachers are called Code Sensei, and the centre is called the Dojo. Ninjas work through a colour-coded programme developed in partnership with Microsoft® to earn wristbands - or belts - just like in martial arts. 'Belt-up' ceremonies mark a Ninja's graduation to the next level. Ninjas can attend sessions up to twice a week at a time that is convenient for the whole family – so that doesn’t have to mean the same day and time every week. What’s more, missed hours on the programme can be made up at a later date.

With successful Dojos already in High Wycombe and Aylesbury, Charlie and Robin are looking to reach even more tech-passionate children with their latest Hemel venture.

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Having worked in the education sector for the majority of my career, I’m passionate about supporting children wherever I can,” said Robin. “But we’re also keen to bring credible and valuable work experience opportunities to budding Senseis. We’ve already recruited a great team of young, energetic tech-lovers who share our dedication for developing local children’s love of coding. The majority of our Senseis are school leavers or university students with an interest in STEM and we’re keen to welcome more into the team as student numbers grow.”

Charlie Gunn and Robin TheakstonCharlie Gunn and Robin Theakston
Charlie Gunn and Robin Theakston

To book a free, zero obligation session at Code Ninjas Hemel, please visit:

1 National curriculum in England: framework for key stages 1 to 4, Department for Education, December 2014