Schools are being encouraged to sign up to Nottinghamshire’s Children’s University this term as the scheme’s countywide rollout begins.
Nearly 200 children from seven primary, secondary and special schools in Notts became the first graduates of the pilot programme when they graduated, donning caps and gowns, at a special ceremony at Nottingham Trent University in July.
The scheme, part of a nationwide initiative, which aims to reward school children aged between seven and 14 for their learning outside the classroom, is being led by Nottinghamshire County Council.
Over the course of this term, the Council will be talking to schools about how they can join up and get their pupils involved.
County Council cabinet member for children and young people’s services councillor Philip Owen said: “Learning isn’t just confined to the classroom. Children can learn new things in all sorts of places - at museums, on nature walks and by playing sport are just a few examples.
“The first wave of children who graduated this summer have been really motivated by the wider learning experience the Children’s University has given them, and in many cases it’s introduced them to the idea of pursuing higher education when they leave school.
“We’re now urging other schools across the county to sign up and get their students involved.”
A grant of £25,000 from the Children’s University Trust has enabled the Nottinghamshire arm of the scheme to be set up.
The Council works with the Children’s University to help children keep track of what they’ve achieved outside of the classroom.
Children at participating schools each get a Children’s University passport, and for every activity they complete, they get a stamp. Their achievements are then rewarded with certificates, to keep them motivated, and a graduation ceremony.
As well as aiming to drive up the number of children taking part in broader learning activities in their spare time, the voluntary activities also tie in with school improvement plans and support to raise achievement.
Activities that earn a stamp in a Children’s University passport might include sport, gardening, singing in a choir, learning to DJ, taking cookery lessons and going on a nature trail.
“Anything children can do at Children’s University, they could also do at an adult university – so building a battery powered go-kart which links to engineering; re-enacting historic events which ties in with both history and drama; and sports as these can be studied as part of sports science.
“And by choosing to take part in a range of activities, our children and young people discover new talents, develop skills and work with different people which helps their learning in school and takes them to new places in life,” explained councillor Owen.
Schools wishing to find out more about Children’s University should log on towww.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/ct-studysupport or contact the Council’s Children’s University manager, Tricia Allan, on email@example.com