Dundee Children's University
The Children’s University promotes exciting learning and creative activities to children outwith school hours in which they can earn credits for certificates. It has been launched in Dundee as part of Children’s University Scotland with funding from Abertay University and the University of Dundee and support from Dundee & Angus College.
What is Children’s University (CU)?
Children’s University provides an accreditation framework for learning outside of normal school hours: before and after school and at lunchtimes, at weekends and in holiday periods. Credits are given for taking part in activities on school sites (such as after-school clubs, drama groups or sports teams) and in other places where learning takes place such as museums, parks and community organisations. Learning need not be purely academic; often it is about building practical skills.
Children's University aims to promote social mobility by supporting high quality, exciting and innovative learning activities and experiences to children aged 7 to 14 (and 5 and 6 year olds with their families) and engaging the wider communities as learning partners in this process. A fundamental principle is that participation is voluntary, enabling children to explore different learning environments, to become independent and confident learners. Our aim is to raise aspirations, boost achievement and encourage a love of learning. Above all it should be fun!
Each child has a Passport to Learning where s/he collects the credits for learning for which they achieve certification at a range of levels. To achieve bronze level each child needs to do 30 hours of learning. Silver level is 65 hours in at least two different areas of learning. Gold level is 100 hours in at least two different areas of learning with the demonstration of leadership skills. There are higher levels than these too. Achievement is recognised and celebrated at graduation ceremonies, normally hosted by a partner university.
What are learning destinations?
Learning destinations are places and organisations to which children can ‘travel’ with their Passport to Learning. They provide high quality learning activities and experiences with a ‘wow’ factor, validated through the Children’s University’s own quality assurance process (Planning for Learning). Learning destinations display the CU’s Learning Destination logo, clearly visible to children who may want to use their Passport to Learning there. Learning destinations ‘stamp’ the child’s Passport to Learning to reflect the time a child has been engaged in the validated learning activities within the learning destination, contributing to the child’s record of achievements and CU certification. The whole process encourages learning that is self-initiated, self-directed and self-sustained.
There are three main types of learning destinations:
Restricted learning destinations
These are places which are not publicly accessible, such as schools and clubs which have restricted membership conditions.
Public learning destinations
Public learning destinations (PLDs) are open to all Passport to Learning holders and can stamp passports from any local Children’s University. As well as art galleries, zoos, libraries and museums which adults and children visit for essentially educational purposes, there are many less obvious sites for learning, such as local radio stations, restaurants and hotels, shopping centres, newspaper offices, docks, airports, or train stations. PLDs also include regular community-run activities such as an athletics club or a dance schools.
In addition to what is on offer locally, the national Children’s University is validating a growing number of distance learning opportunities with the goal of encouraging children to become more independent learners. Children who wish to participate in the learning offered by organisations such as Huntfun or the Forestry Commission may download an activity from their website, complete it in their own time and then submit it to their local CU centre for recognition in their Passport to Learning.
Click for extra distance learning links
The E-Passport is an exciting new development that complements, but does not replace, the hard copy Passport to Learning. It allows children to update their passport on-line, see how close they are to their next award and enables them to add text and photos to their experiences, as well as search for other activities both in their locality and further afield. For administrators it can work alongside the school’s existing management information system and enable reports of students’ activities to be generated, as well as analysing the participation of different groups of students. It can supply much of the data required in the annual CU data collection.
Children's University National
Information about all public and distance learning destinations is available on the national website for all children and their parents to access: www.childrensuniversity.co.uk
Learning beyond the Classroom - an article by the Chief Executive of Children's University Scotland.
Click here to read an article by our Chief Executive of Children's University Scotland Mary De la Peña (née Brittain) MBE.
Widening Access is 'wider than universities'
Click here to read an article in Holyrood.com about the importance of initiatives such as Children's University in widening access to University.