Children can only aspire to what they know exists

Described by the Sunday Times as 'The University of Fun', Children's University encourages 5-14 year olds to try new experiences, develop new interests and acquire new skills.

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A Journey to Independent learning

The Children's University (CU) Trust is a charitable trust that provides 7 to 14 year olds (and 5 to 6 year olds with their families) with exciting and innovative learning activities and experiences outside normal school hours. We celebrate achievement and reward participation through our certificates. Raising children's aspirations is important to us and we aim to develop the understanding that learning can be "...a satellite navigation system to better places in life…".

The Passport To Learning

"Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand!" - Anon

As a rule of thumb, Children's University learning equals 'grown-ups university' learning; it is learning which can be 'connected' to Higher Education course provision as exemplified by UCAS - in other words: if you can get a degree in it the Children's University wants to know! This is what the Children's University terms the thinking at the start of the journey to independent learning …

Passport To Learning has been created, in which 7 to 14 year old children - and 5 and 6 year olds with grown-ups - collect 'stamps' and hours of accredited learning. This contributes to the award of a certificate, encouraging them to access Children's University provision and a wide range of other worthwhile out-of-school-hours learning opportunities.

This innovation has received widespread support from sponsors and funders. Our current supporters and sponsors include the Education Endowment Foundation/Cabinet Office, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, F2UNI and the Fidelity Foundation. Investment is vital and by no means limited to hard cash: services, venues, products and staff time all play an equally critical role. The Association of Graduate Recruiters generously allocated us exhibition space at no cost and Birmingham Solicitors’ Group selected their local CU as the group’s “Charity of the Year”. Our learning partners cover a diverse range of public providers, including: Higher and Further Education Institutions, Museums, Libraries and Archives, Woodland Trust, English Heritage, The Forestry Commission, Pets at Home and Halfords. Internationally, we have a growing number of public Learning Destinations in Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Australia. 

Each Passport To Learning is individually numbered which makes each child, as passport holder, an individual member of the Children's University. Tracking development and progress as part of the evaluation of impact is in this way also possible. This may be of particular interest to individual schools and Local Authorities as well as government agencies. An electronic version of the Passport To Learning (E-Passport) has been developed in partnership with private sector partners F2UNI / bit10, to promote even greater independence in our learners and to enable children to actively log and manage their achievements. The E-Passport can also assist in children's transition from the primary to secondary phase and act as evidence in schools' monitoring, reporting and (Ofsted) self-evaluation.

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Learning Destinations & Learning Activities

"The aim of teaching is not to produce learning but to produce the conditions for learning, this is the focal point, the quality of learning." - Loris Malaguzzi

Learning Destinations are places and organisations to which children can 'travel' with their Passport To Learning. They provide high quality learning activities and experiences with a 'wow' factor and have passed the Children's University's own quality assurance process (Planning for Learning). A Learning Destination can range from a museum to a farm or from an airport to a university as long as the learning activity connects with Children's University learning, which is in turn linked to actual university course provision (as exemplified by UCAS). Partners as diverse as the Woodland Trust, English Heritage, and B & Q offer treasure trails and history walks, measuring, calculating, designing and making, playing an instrument, photography, sports and first aid, and much much more.

The status as a CU validated Learning Destination will in principle last for 3 years and is as such a licence agreement between the Children's University and the individual Learning Destination. As part of the local Children's University's monitoring and evaluation of learning activities additional local CU support may be available to individual Learning Destinations.

Learning Destinations display the CU's Learning Destination logo prominently in and outside their environment, clearly visible to children who may want to use their Passport To Learning there. Learning Destinations are also strongly encouraged to include the Learning Destination logo on literature, letter headed paper and to have a web link to the CU website. To find a Learning Destination near you please go to the Learning Destinations page. Passport holders can now access all of the public Learning Destinations across the United Kingdom and beyond to go on their own journey to independent learning. Schools can also be Learning Destinations through their out-of-school-hours offer - these Learning Destinations are mostly restricted to targeted groups of children and therefore do no appear as public Learning Destinations on the CU website.       

Learning Destinations 'stamp' the child's Passport To Learning to correspond with the time a child has been engaged in the validated learning activities within the Learning Destination. This therefore contributes to the child's record of achievements and CU Certification.

Learning Destinations ensure, where appropriate, attendance and evaluation records related to CU activities can be available to the Children's University to assist in developments, evaluation and research.

The children …

"The Children's University makes you want to go to school more. The courses are fun courses ... and you get the credits."

"I joined the computer club and practiced really hard. I got better. We don't have a computer at home but I could take this one home. It really helped me."

"No one ever bullies you in the CU. It just wouldn't be what CU is like."

The parents …

"Children's Universityhas been a fantastic experience for all three of our children. 

"Congratulations on a job well done and I am happy to spout off to all and sundry the benefit the Children's University brings the children and our wider community.

The professionals …

"He's just a different person now; puts his hand up in class, joins in, volunteers to help, brims with a confidence that was never there before."

"I really want to take the attitude that success out of school equals success in school. The Children's University has been invaluable in raising standards across the school."

"It is the enthusiasm and delight youngsters get from doing things and learning things they had not thought of before, exploring new areas, new ways of learning."

Learning Destinations

Learning Destinations are places and organisations to which children can 'travel' with their Passport To Learning.

Entertainment, Shows and Concerts
Galleries and Museums
Landmarks, Historical Sites and Properties
Media, Arts and Crafts Skills
Science, Technology, Maths
Sports and Recreation
Tours and Guided Walks
Zoos, Wildlife and Countryside