100 local children graduate in life skills from UWE Bristol's Children's University

Issue date: 07 July 2015

Graduates from the Children's University throw their mortarboards in the air

Mini-mortarboards will be at the ready, as local school children get the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and graduate in true university style from the Children's University (CU) at a ceremony held at Bristol Cathedral on Friday 10 July 2015.

The South West is currently rated second lowest in the country for the number of 18 year olds progressing to Higher Education, with young people in London 37% more likely to continue. Within Bristol, the percentage of HE attendees varies greatly from area to area, progression can be less than 5% in Knowle compared to 99% in Clifton.

The Bristol and South Gloucestershire Children's University is just one of the many initiatives run by UWE Bristol, to address this serious gap in ambition and support for young people in the region to aspire to higher skills. As part of the Children's UniversityTM programme, it aims to take education beyond the confines of the classroom, engaging with children from age 5 to14, and their families, through a range of out of school hours' activities. These are designed in collaboration with member schools and learning destinations to demonstrate the real-world relevance of subjects studied at school, helping to break the cycle of under-achievement which prevents many children from realising their full potential.

Hosted by UWE Bristol, this celebratory event will see 120 children aged 5-14 from 10 schools across Bristol and South Gloucestershire take part in their very own graduation, complete with robes and mortarboards. This marks the start of UWE Bristol's Award Ceremonies fortnight which runs between 13 and 24 July 2015 and will see over 4,000 graduates having their awards conferred.

The children, from Ashton Vale Primary, Bridge Learning Campus, Broadway Infants, Frampton Cotterell CofE Primary, Merchants Academy Primary, Millpond Primary, Oasis Brislington Academy, Orchard School, St Michaels CofE Primary, and The Ridge Junior Schools will be met by the Canon John Savage, CBE, prior to the event. Professor Steve West, UWE Bristol's Vice-Chancellor, will be the guest speaker at the event. Jane Harrington, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Jo Midgley, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Shawn Sobers, Associate Professor and Debbie Bird, Head of Local Support and Development CU Trust will form the procession and present awards to the children.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Jo Midgley, said, “This is one of a range of initiatives UWE is working on with partners and schools to help inspire young people to progress to further and higher education. Our aim is to help young people aspire to the many high skill opportunities that are available in order to provide them with successful careers and futures.”

The ceremony is the third for children in Bristol schools and the first for children from schools in South Gloucestershire. This year also sees the first Bristol Children's University Volunteers, recognised for their achievements and support for Children's' University activity at Orchard School, Bristol.

Di Stone, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Children's University Manager at UWE Bristol, hopes the ceremony will raise awareness amongst head teachers, local authorities, community organisations and employers, in regards to the benefits to children of taking part in the project.

She said, “For a child, being part of the Children's University means that they have access to a wide variety of amazing learning destinations, activities and experiences that they may not have previously been aware of. When children visit venues outside of school hours, and take part in approved activities, they collect stamps in a passport which count towards their graduation. The Bristol and South Gloucestershire Children's University is fully funded and supported by UWE Bristol, who also host their fantastic annual Award Ceremonies at Bristol Cathedral.”

The Children's University is an educational organisation that aims to promote social mobility by providing high quality, exciting and innovative learning activities and experiences outside normal school hours to children aged 7-14 (and 5 and 6 year olds with their families) whilst engaging the wider communities as learning partners in the realisation of this goal.

At the heart of the CU's work is the ambition to raise aspirations, boost achievement and foster a love of learning, so that young people can make the most of their abilities and interests, regardless of background.

Although open to all, the CU aims particularly to reach children and young people facing socio-economic and educational disadvantage through the targeting of grants to, and the promotion of activities in, areas of deprivation.

For more information on the work of the Children's University, please visit the webpage.

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