7 October 2016

Last night (October 6th) two hundred pupils graduated from Sheffield’s Children’s University 50th Gold award ceremony.

Since it began in 2007, the initiative which encourages children aged 4-19 to take part in learning activities outside of school, has seen more than 35,000 children taking part in nearly 2 million hours of activities.

Research shows that young people from Sheffield who have taken part in the Children University (CU) initiative achieve better grades in both primary and secondary schools, and have better attendance:

  • 85% of children who have taken part in 200 hours of activities achieved the expected standard, level 4, in their year six SATs. This is 7% higher than pupils not taking part in Children’s University
  • 50% of young people who have taken part in 100 hours of activities achieved 5A*- C GCSEs including English and Maths in the North East of the city. This is 10% higher than students not taking part in Children’s University.

Debbie Mander and her seven year old daughter Ariana has been taking part in the Children’s University for the past 18 months. They have been to visit Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Natural History Museum, Manor Lodge and Sheffield Cathedral as part of the experience.

Debbie, Arianas mum said: “I love the whole premise of Children’s University. I read somewhere that children can only aspire to what they have actually been exposed to. For me it’s about opening children’s environments to multiple possibilities. In order to succeed you have to be prepared to give something a go. The Children’s University teaches kids Ariana’s age that, without them even realising.”

The Joneses are a family that have embraced Children’s University in Sheffield.

Ben aged 10 and Libby aged 6 have been taking part in CU for a number of years. They both attend regular karate classes as part of CU.

Cheryl Jones, Ben and Libby’s mum said: “Oh I think it’s brilliant. The smiles on the kids’ faces when they get the awards, it’s just lovely. It’s so nice that they get recognised for the hard work that they’re doing out of school, and to go and get the cap and gown on, they’re just so excited. It’s Libby’s first ceremony tomorrow and she’s really, really excited. I can’t wait to see her face tomorrow when they call her name out to get her certificate.”

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said: “Congratulations to all the children and young people graduating from the Children’s University. It’s fantastic to see this wonderful scheme has expanded from working with 500 children in 2007 to an incredible 35,000 today and read that it has such a positive impact on the children and young people taking part.”

“Thanks to all those involved organisers, schools, providers and parents and carers for making this possible. I would encourage all children and young people to get involved with the Children’s University there you get credits, learn new skills and have fun all at the same time.”

Sheffield Children’s University encourages children, aged 4 to 19, to take part in a wide range of learning activities including dance and music workshops, roller hockey, football and self-defence classes, as well as library events which encourage reading.

Children are rewarded for taking part with Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. Children who take part in 100 hours of activities are presented with a gold award and invited to attend a graduation event.