Research shows that, through out of school activities, students improve their attainment and develop a positive identification with school, as well as self-confidence and resilience. Existing resources within a particular area are identified, activated and clustered to foster participation, with multiple purposes:
- Ensuring access to every child, regardless of their socioeconomic situation.
- Fostering independent learning through volunteer engagement, thus developing trust and a love of learning.
- Providing environments where children can develop skills and professional interests.
- Enhancing personal, social and emotional growth, in addition to wellbeing and mental health.
- Connecting children and their families with the fields of further and higher education, thus growing their aspirations.
NEON Widening Access Initiative Award (2017). Nominated to the WISE Awards (2014). Third Sector Excellence Award (2012). Every Day Impact Award, Directory of Social Change (2011).
Several external evaluations have shown positive results among participants as compared with control groups: improved attendance, greater progress in reading and maths, teamwork and social commitment development, as well as improved levels of communication, empathy, self-confidence, resilience and happiness.
Pupils from local schools are offered a menu with experiential learning opportunities within their communities, ranging from adapted readings on chemistry to cooking and dance workshops, volunteer activities or visits to local beekeepers. Activities are coordinated by schoolteachers and organised by Learning Providers, which are validated partner organisations that operate in the formal, non-formal and informal education fields. Providers may include museums, sports clubs, universities, community groups and after-school clubs, among others. Thus, the offer varies according to the local context.
Recognising participants’ efforts and success is key to the programme: every time students complete an activity, they receive a stamp in their Passport to Learning. Different levels of achievement are recognised through learning certificates, which are handed over in a graduation ceremony at the end of the course. Over the years, Children’s University has evolved and adapted to an online format. This has led to the development of a monitoring tool that enables the teaching staff to identify interests and skills associated with each activity and accordingly guide pupils in the search for other learning opportunities.