The Children’s University in the United Kingdom began as a Saturday school project in Birmingham in the early 1990s.
It was instigated by Professor Sir Tim Brighouse and Sir David Winkley, then Chief Education Officer and Head Teacher, and supported by the King Edward Foundation. During the next decade a dozen or so Children’s University centres were started across England, Wales and Scotland, offering a variety of out-of-school hours learning experiences to children.
CU Trust was formed in December 2006, with the financial support of the Department for Education and the Sutton Trust.
The rest, as they say, is history.
As we find ourselves well into 2015 we have :
90 local CU centres
100,000 Passport to Learning holders
10,000 Restricted Learning Destinations
1,000 participating schools
5,800 Public Learning Destinations
We are a diverse and vibrant organisation, one that puts the child at the centre of learning which is facilitated by individuals, educational establishments and organisations across all sectors.
Thanks to funding from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation we have been able to expand our network of local CU centres, currently being established at the rate of one a month. CU Scotland has four centres and has celebrated 2 CU Graduations and, through full adoption of the E-Passport, can confidently announce that a total of 13,000 hours of learning has been recorded by CU Members north of the border.
Despite all the movement and change within the MOD, Service Children’s Education is still able to support Children’s University in 6 areas across the World with 4 CU Graduations planned across The Falkland Islands, Germany, in Naples and in Cyprus.
Our International development and International CU colleagues go from strength to strength and in 2013 the University of Adelaide (CU Australia) became the sole license holder and lead organisation for the introduction of Children’s University Australia with the intention to expand across Australia and New Zealand, with expansion into Tasmania planned for this year.
Children’s University is licensed to operate in Malaysia and held its inaugural CU Graduation in Kuala Lumpar in November 2014. The pilot programme, which is approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Education, saw 200 children from primary schools graduate in CU caps and gowns, with a special focus on Leadership and Communication skills.
We have welcomed our newest member of CU family - CU China. Following some existing class to class activity, CU China is set to launch in summer 2015 at 2 schools in Ningbo, who will be linking with schools in Coventry and Lincolnshire and we are looking forward to celebrating their first CU Graduation at the beginning of 2016.
Since the launch of the national Facebook and Twitter accounts in 2014 our profile has been building amongst parents and learning providers and local CUs are leading the way in setting up their own pages. We are also helping local centres to generate income through our new range of merchandise.
Our growth is not just about numbers; we must ensure that resources are targeted at those that need it most. Our University partners share that common agenda to raise aspirations and achievement of learners from the most disadvantaged communities and we are delighted that this synergy is recognised by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).
One of our flagship programmes for 2014-16 is the Youth Social Action Project in the North West and Middlesbrough supported by the Cabinet Office and the Education Endowment Fund. Through this project we are using Children’s University to introduce over 60 schools and over 1,500 children to a range of activities which are not only fun but help them to develop the skills and confidence to use their learning to benefit their communities.
With the launch of our new website and Learning Destination App we are making it far easier for our CU Members to identify and record their Learning Activities.
Alongside our local CU Managers and partners, we are looking forward to continuing to take our organisation from strength to strength.