Over fifty children collected their Children’s University awards at the ceremony at Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park, supported by friends and family. It is the first ceremony of its kind to take place in Rotherham since the Children’s University was established in the area.
Gulliver’s Valley surprised those at the ceremony by keeping the Theme Park open after hours to allow children and their families to have a go on the rides after the ceremony.
As well as children and their families and friends, several special guests attended the ceremony, including Tajamal Khan, the Lord Mayor of Rotherham, Councillor Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, Julie Dalton, Managing Director of Gulliver’s Theme Parks and Paul Warne, Manager of Rotherham United F.C.
Led by the Rotherham School Improvement Service, Rotherham Children’s University started with a small pilot involving five schools in 2018/19 and the team continued to work with schools in the region during the pandemic to provide tailored support such as home learning challenges.
So far more than 3,000 children in Rotherham have taken part in 18,673 hours of activity, all tracked and celebrated through Children’s University. Rotherham Children’s University are now entering the next stage of development with plans to grow the number of schools and Learning Destinations for the next academic year.
Establishing a Children’s University in Rotherham was a key part of the vision for South Yorkshire Children’s University, a regional collaborative programme established in 2019 and supported by the University, with the aim of expanding the highly successful Sheffield Children’s University model across South Yorkshire.
"We're so pleased to make this milestone moment a reality"
Katie Hamshaw, South Yorkshire Children’s University Project Manager, said: “We’re thrilled to co-host the first ever Rotherham Children’s University awards ceremony at Gulliver’s Valley. It’s been a pleasure to work with Rotherham School Improvement Service to establish a Children’s University in Rotherham – a key part of our vision for South Yorkshire Children’s University, ensuring children and families across the borough can access and benefit from Children’s University in their local area.
From a small pilot 3 years ago, we now have 15 schools fully engaged with us and it’s fantastic to bring our award winners together to celebrate their achievements, wearing our brand-new university style caps and gowns. We look forward to welcoming even more schools, activity providers and families into our Rotherham Children’s University family as we develop and grow."
Councillor Victoria Cusworth, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “I am immensely proud of every one of the 3,000 children and young people from Rotherham who have taken part in the South Yorkshire Children’s University, which continues to go from strength-to-strength. Our fantastic family of schools have been instrumental in supporting the children to clock-up a staggering 18,000 hours of extra-curricular activity, which is a remarkable achievement and deserving of this recognition.”
The Children's University is a national charity which works with schools and Learning Destinations (approved activity providers) to encourage and recognise the development of essential life skills through their participation in extra-curricular activities - particularly with children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Children are rewarded and celebrated through a series of award certificates, and they are invited to attend special graduation ceremonies when they reach a target number of Children’s University credits.
Research published by the Education Endowment Foundation (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 maths compared to children in other schools. A number of Rotherham schools are currently part of a follow-up study with EEF and are expecting to see similar results in the borough.
Ensuring children have access to essential life skills and experiences is a key part of Sheffield Hallam’s Civic University Agreement.
As part of the University’s commitments to support education and skills, it will build on existing provision, such as the Children's University, to ensure all young people have access to arts and culture, development of essential life skills and wide-ranging experiences to support educational, career and personal goals.