Children's University February Half Term Newsletter

November 2017: Gold Award Winners Presentation Ceremony​ at The City Hall


a university without walls…


The Children’s University (CU) is an exciting national initiative which encourages children to engage with learning opportunities of their choice and celebrates their commitment.


Research shows a clear link between participation in study support activities and academic progress due to increased self-esteem and confidence.


CU offers schools and organisations an inspiring way to:


  •     Increase pupils’ motivation to learn
  •     raise aspirations
  •     be part of a prestigious national initiative
  •     contribute to the five Every Child Matters outcomes


Many schools and communities offer a wide range of positive learning activities out of normal lesson time in which children choose to participate. The CU framework adds value to this work by providing a framework to record and celebrate children’s participation in out of school hours (study support*).


Schools provide details of study support activities that meet the key CU validation criteria together with attendance registers. At present children in KS1, KS2 or KS3 attending any Sheffield school may be registered for awards.


Sheffield CU has a limited amount of funding to work with new CU schools to launch their involvement with exciting study support modules. This could be in areas such as Forest Schools , Creative Challenge or Board Games Design.


Participation in activities is recorded as 1 credit for each hour of learning activity.


Each activity is rewarded with a Sheffield CU certificate stating the credits gained and over time the credits accumulate to earn national award certificates and medals which are presented at a public ceremony.


The national awards are:


Bronze (30 hours)    Silver (65 hours)      Gold (100 hours).


In Sheffield we also offer higher levels of:


Ruby Gold (130 hours)    Emerald Gold (165 hours)    Platinum (200 hours)


Regular reports are provided for schools so that the children’s out of school achievements are given maximum value. The Sheffield CU database is part of the Sheffield Education Management System (EMS) which allows comparative analysis of participation with attainment and attendance. Research shows a clear link between participation in study support activities and academic progress due to increased self-esteem and confidence.


What makes a Children’s University module?


In addition to the Sheffield CU modules schools are encouraged to register existing or new modules (programmes of activities) that meet the following criteria.


Validation Criteria


  •     There are clear learning objectives
  •     The module is led by an appropriately qualified and/or experienced tutor
  •     There is a structured programme of challenging activities giving opportunity for skills development and decision making
  •     Each module is a minimum of 3 hours learning time in total. This could all be in one day or over a period of time e.g. 6 x 30 minutes (excluding travel and breaks).
  •     The activities take place outside of normal lesson times and the children’s participation is voluntary.


Schools are encouraged to incorporate the following elements into their wider programme


  •     A range of optional activities to ensure choice.
  •     Activities that are fun and enjoyable.
  •     Activities that support personal, social, emotional development and health education.
  •     Opportunities to experience new learning environments outside the classroom and to meet with inspirational adults in a safe context.
  •     Opportunities for parents and carers to be made aware of the outcome of the module and children’s achievements.
  •     A system to communicate achievement to appropriate members of school staff e.g. class teacher, head teacher


There are many possible forms that a CU module may take.  An existing club may qualify as a module if there are a range of activities that are planned to support learning over a defined period of time. Activities pupils are involved in outside of normal lesson time such as choir, outward bound residentials, sports training and tournaments could all be registered as CU modules.


Group sessions to facilitate homework and skills practice may be included if supported by an adult who is able to assess progress and introduce additional activities that are stimulating and challenging.


It is also be expected that the provision is organised in accordance with Sheffield City Council’s health, safety and child protection policies and delivered by staff with appropriate experience, qualifications and C.R.B. clearance.


How does the Award system work?


The accurate recording and reporting of children’s attendance at activity sessions is crucial to the effectiveness of the CU recognition and award system.


SheffieldChildren’s University will:


  •     Present national award certificates at a citywide event
  •     Present Sheffield Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards in whole school assemblies
  •     Provide newsletters, updates and press releases about developments and help promote study support activities at a local and national level
  •     Enter credits accrued for each child for each module
  •     Send module certificates for every child after each project
  •     Provide templates to assist the school in evaluating activities
  •     Send termly reports to CU schools showing pupils’ credit totals
  •     Provide an annual comparative analysis to schools cross-referencing CU participants and S.A.Ts data


The School will:


Identify a member of staff to be CU Contact who will undertake the following tasks:


  •     Complete a proposal form giving the details of the module.
  •     Keep electronic session registers showing full names and dates of birth of children (essential for checking that credits are assigned to the correct child)
  •     Submit the electronic registers and the End of Module Form giving final details and feedback from evaluation as soon as the module is complete
  •     Register additional activities as above to ensure children have the opportunity to achieve awards
  •     Promote relevant activities as part of the school Children’s University programme using the Sheffield Children’s University logo where possible


How is The Children’s University organised?



Schools organise and promote activities under the banner of the CU. The member of the school staff designated CU Contact is responsible for completing and submitting forms and registers to Katie Hamshaw at the Bannerdale Centre (regardless of who actually delivers the activities).   Schools are also invited to submit a digital photograph and brief report on any activity that is particularly successful so that it can be publicised in the CU newsletter and website. Certificates will be returned to this person.


Sheffield Children’s University Staff Team

CU Support Officer  Katie Hamshaw has responsibility for monitoring records, entering data, compiling reports, preparing certificates and organising events.  0114 203 9134


Children’s University Development Consultant Penny Rea will work with new school centres to establish innovative programmes and develop a range of modules which will be offered to participating schools. 07814 919 704


Study Support Strategy Adviser, Anita de Brouwer has overall responsibility for allocation of resources and monitoring of provision.    0114 250 6730


Sheffield Children’s University Steering Group representing key stakeholders will advise and approve policy and processes, agree validation criteria and support development.


Sheffield Children’s University is managed by Sheffield City Council Children and Young People’s Service (Learning and Achievement Service, Study Support), and has been affiliated to the National Children’s University since 2004.  Phase One included 10 schools in the Parson Cross area of North Sheffield .  The newly configured National CU receives funding from the D.C.S.F and the Sutton Trust.  Sheffield CU has been awarded funds to develop Phase Two and is now developing new modules of Forest School activity and other innovative areas of learning and bringing 25 more schools into the existing programme.


National Children’s University based at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester , is responsible for: strategic planning; resource procurement at national level; registration, certification and quality assurance; and support of local leadership. It provides networking facilities, conferences and website access for the exchange of ideas and materials.  Evaluation of the CU across the UK is being undertaken in partnership with Leadership for Learning: The Cambridge Network, led by Professor John MacBeath.


The CU Trust is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. The Children's University is a registered trademark owned by the CU Trust


* “Study Support is learning activity outside normal lessons which young people take part in voluntarily.  Study Support is, accordingly, an inclusive term, embracing many activities – with many different names and guises.  It’s purpose is to improve young people’s motivation, build their self-esteem and help them top become effective learners.  Above all it aims to raise achievement”.    DfEE1999 – Extending Opportunity : a national framework for Study support”


Sheffield CU is developing practice in consultation with schools and community partners.  Any comments or suggestions are welcome.


Penny Rea,

Children’s University Development Consultant,

Sheffield Learning and Achievement Service,

The Bannerdale Centre,

125 Carterknowle Road

Sheffield S7 2EX



Telephone: 0114 203 9134

Fax: 0114 250 6859

Mobile : 07814 919704


Sheffield Children’s University Website:


Values and Mottos

Our Values and Mottos provide a strong scaffold for all members of the school community to act as responsible and independent strong global citizens. The Values and Mottos support a strong sense of community and give a common core vocabulary to aid discussion both within curriculum areas and in helping to deal with sensitive issues and situations in daily life.


The Values and Mottos are on display in the school hall and in every classroom.


Dobcroft introduced Values Education in September 2003.  Each month one value was profiled on a 2 year rolling programme.  They were introduced as part of whole school assembly and now link across the curriculum as the opportunity arises.  E.g.  Courage in Black history week linked with story of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parkes in their actions to fight for freedom for black people.  School link – Courage to stand up for what you know is right in school e.g. in ‘Bullying Matters’.


The School Values are:-


Co-operation, Obedience, Understanding, Courage, Compassion, Honesty, Trust,  Loyalty, Appreciation, Determination, Humility, Resilience, Thoughtfulness, Resourcefulness, Freedom, Respect, Creativity, Kindness, Rights Respecting.


We have seen the very powerful impact of having a common core vocabulary to discuss issues and to support considerate behaviour.