South Yorkshire Children's University

South Yorkshire Children's University

Work with partners to establish an inclusive extra-curricular enrichment offer for young people in South Yorkshire.

Children are on a stage dressed in graduation caps and gowns, as a group they are throwing their graduation caps in the air.
Children's University pupils take part in a hat toss to celebrate the launch of South Yorkshire Children's University.

Children's University is a national initiative that celebrates participation in learning activities and opportunities outside school hours, encouraging young people from the age of 5 to try new learning experiences.

Ongoing local and national research shows the positive impact that participation in Children’s University and extra-curricular activity has on attainment. Research published by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) has shown that significant numbers of pupils taking part in Children's University across the country made two additional months progress in reading and math, compared to children in other schools.

Children's University encourages children and young people to seek out high-quality learning opportunities in the community, they then receive credits for the time spent participating in these activities. Their progress is celebrated through a national award scheme, starting with a Bronze Award for 30 hours and progresses to a Gold Fellowship for 1000 hours.

At regular intervals, children, young people and their families are invited to celebrate their commitment to learning in their own time by wearing university style caps and gowns at a graduation ceremony. This learning adventure gives children and young people the opportunity to enrich their childhoods, nurture a lifelong love of learning, unlock their skills and talents and develop their aspirations and confidence, regardless of their backgrounds.

In 2019, funding from the SYMCA supported the expansion of the highly successful Sheffield Children’s University model across South Yorkshire. Subsequent funding from Sheffield Hallam has supported the continuation of this work to date.

Since the initial funding, a brand-new Children’s University has been set up in Rotherham in partnership with Rotherham School Improvement Service, while the existing Children’s University in Doncaster, based in Doncaster College has been supported to develop further. Barnsley Children’s University is also rapidly taking shape, with a pilot programme rolling out in 2024.

Rotherham Children's University pupils celebrate at Gulliver's Theme Park
Rotherham Children's University celebrate their graduation at Gulliver's  Valley Theme Park, Rotherham.

As part of our commitment to the region, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield have now agreed to jointly fund the continuation of South Yorkshire Children’s University for the next two years. Our vision is to ensure every child in South Yorkshire has access to Children’s University in their area, so that they can reach their potential and become the very best they can be.