We built the biggest Children’s University in the country

Katie Hamshaw, Senior Project Officer at Sheffield Children’s University, won the Mary Anne Rawson Award for Education at the Women of Sheffield Awards in March for her dedication to developing the project that aims to engage children in learning outside of school.

I started working for Sheffield Children’s University in 2008, when we had 5 schools taking part and 70 children invited to our first CU awards.

Fast forward to 2019, and my team will host 12 ceremonies for around 2,500 children and young people at prestigious venues across the city.

Sheffield Children’s University was developed to ensure that children and young people in the city could be rewarded for the all of the additional learning they chose to take part in outside of normal school hours, and we have seen it give amazing opportunities to young people, especially the most disadvantaged, across the city.

Children who join Sheffield CU can earn credits for taking part in activities such as after-school clubs and lunchtime sessions, as well as an exciting range of learning opportunities across the city.

My job is incredibly varied and I have worked with staff to create something that meets children’s needs by developing relationships with schools and activity providers, as well as working to engage children and their families.

I’ve now taken Sheffield CU through to the highest level of a national quality award, which recognises and demonstrates the real impact of the work being done.

I’m incredibly proud to say that Sheffield CU is now the biggest in the country, with over 44,000 children and young people with CU credits, 73 schools subscribed and well over 200 Learning Destinations (activity providers away from school.)

I was absolutely thrilled to find out that I’d been nominated for and won the Women in Sheffield Mary Anne Rawson Award for my work developing Sheffield CU and I felt so lucky to be among so many brilliant, determined and courageous Sheffield women at the awards ceremony.

For me, one of the best parts of the awards was that the stories of the winners were featured in the Star newspaper and copies were delivered to Sheffield schools as part of International Women’s Day.

For me, encouraging girls and young women to feel that if they ‘want to, they can’, is so important, and the positive impact on attainment, self-confidence and aspiration that Sheffield Children’s University has is what has really driven me over the past ten years to keep pushing forward.

Looking forward I am excited that we have started working with Sheffield Hallam University to develop a new ‘South Yorkshire Children’s University’, which will include setting up new CUs in Rotherham and Barnsley; giving us the opportunity to reach even more children.

Over the past ten years I have been lucky to experience the positive impact Sheffield Children’s University has first-hand.
It really does make a difference to all of the children and young people who take part and so I would absolutely encourage all children and families to get involved!

You can find out more about registering for Sheffield Children’s University here: http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/cu

Katie Hamshaw
Katie Hamshawhttps://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/schools-childcare/childrens-university.html
Katie is the Senior Project Officer at Sheffield Children's University.