The University has pledged £38,000 to fund the regional programme with the aim to expand a successful pilot in Rotherham and establish a new Children’s University in Barnsley.
There are already well-established Children’s University programmes in Sheffield and Doncaster which will be strengthened further, as well as collaborative projects across the region.
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.
'We want to raise the aspirations of children, young people and families'
The South Yorkshire Children’s University develops a wide range of programmes and initiatives with partners and has a key role in ensuring best practice and resources are shared across individual programmes in the four Children’s University centres.
Helen Oades, South Yorkshire Children’s University Project Manager, said: “We’re delighted that the University is supporting us to continue the vital work of developing Children’s University across our region.
“We’re keen to ensure each area has its own local Children’s University centre, so that the diverse needs of each locality can be met through individual programmes. Additionally, having an over-arching South Yorkshire-wide Children’s University will allow us to work together and share best practice and high-quality resources such as our first ever South Yorkshire CU Project in a Box which will be launched this academic year
“We want to raise the aspirations of children, young people and families and encourage them to explore our region and take part in activities in a different city or town nearby.”
Developing skills beyond the classroom
Local research in Sheffield demonstrates a clear link between taking part in extra learning activities and increased attendance, achievement and progress made in school, particularly for the children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The findings also illustrate an increased in essential life skills such as listening and presenting, problem solving and team work.
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.
Sheffield Hallam University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Richard Calvert said: “Helping to improve life opportunities for all of our young people, to enable them to realise their full potential, is a key commitment in Sheffield Hallam’s Civic University Agreement.
“The Children’s University is a fantastic project, and we want as many young people as possible to have the opportunity to benefit from it. I am delighted that the University has been able to support the South Yorkshire Children’s University to continue to expand and develop across our region.”
Rachel Hall, Assistant Headteacher Prince Edward Primary School, Sheffield, said: “We value our working partnership with the Children's University. We believe in the importance of children developing their skills beyond the classroom which is why we are proud to be part of the CU. Not only do children gain new skills, develop confidence and self-esteem, have fun and develop their understanding of being lifelong learners, they also get to collect CU credits which they love.
“Through the pandemic, the CU has supported schools, children and their families by providing activities each month which the children could complete during lockdown and beyond. These gave children and their families something different, fun and positive to focus on during this difficult period. We look forward to continuing to work with CU and getting as many of our children as we can back into clubs and achieving their Gold awards.”
Children from Prince Edward Primary School have spoken about taking part on Children’s University.
Dannilou, aged 11, said: “I enjoy being part of CU because it keeps me entertained and not bored at home. When I receive a certificate and a badge from CU I feel really proud. Taking part in all these activities has helped me be more confident.”
Skylar, aged 10, said: “I enjoy taking part in after school activities which help me get CU credits. Clubs are fun, especially things like cooking clubs. Being part of CU makes me feel happy.”
More information is available on the Children’s University website.