Graduation time for Bexley Children’s Uni students

More than 300 children will take part in special graduation ceremonies this week for the Bexley Children’s University in recognition of everything they have achieved so far. It is the first time that these ceremonies have been held since the programme was launched.

Children from St Fidelis Catholic Primary School and schools in the Woodlands Academy Trust (Peareswood Primary School, Willow Bank Primary School, Northumberland Heath Primary School  and Knockhall Primary School in Kent) will graduate with caps, gowns and certificates in front of their parents and carers at events on 16, 18 and 19 July.

The introduction of the Children’s University in Bexley has been developed and supported by the London South East Children’s University (LSECU).

Children’s University is a national charitable federation and encourages children to try new experiences and acquire new skills through extra-curricular activities. Children taking part in the University programme receive a ‘passport’ and get a stamp for every hour of activity they complete at a validated ‘Learning Destination’. These are places where children can 'travel' with their passport.

Learning Destinations in Bexley currently include Hall Place & Gardens, Danson Park, Lesnes Abbey, Red House, Woodlands Farm Trust and Bexley Lingotots. Charlton Challenges take place at Erith and Crook Log leisure centres and libraries host learning activities as part of the programme. There are plans to add more destinations as the programme develops.

To become a Children’s University Learning Destination, the activity should -

- Enable children to further develop and improve their skills and knowledge

- Be undertaken voluntarily, outside the school classroom and can include activities run before school, at lunchtime and after school

- Relate to a subject that can be studied in further or higher education

- Raise aspirations, showing children that learning can be challenging and fun.

Along with the Learning destinations there are plans to expand the number of ‘inter-generational’ activities with older people. These activities are designed to benefit both parties, encouraging community involvement among older people that may feel isolated, while providing a learning opportunity for the young participants. There is also scope to involve local businesses in the programme. Other schools have also been contacted about joining the Bexley Children’s University.

Cabinet Member for Education Councillor John Fuller said: “The number of children graduating from our first term of the Children’s University has exceeded our expectations. They have embraced the concept and have been busy visiting the ‘Learning Destinations’ and collecting their passport stamps and learning while having fun. I hope the programme has given our young graduates a taste for the real thing and an understanding of how it is possible to learn in different ways.”

Feedback from the children involved so far included “When we get stamps, we know we have achieved and when we achieve, we feel proud of ourselves” and “I like it because it’s fun and you get to learn new stuff”.

For more information please email  BexleyCU@bexley.gov.uk or follow the programme on Twitter @BexleyCU or through Facebook @bexleychildrensuni.