Pupils from schools across the Bath area will soon be able to benefit from membership of The Children’s University, a national charitable trust promoting innovative learning activities and experiences to children aged from 7-14 years.

The Children’s University will work in conjunction with Bath Spa University, B&NES and a range of local providers to offer the children the opportunity to enjoy a number of activities outside of the classroom. This can take the form of visits to heritage sites and accredited Learning Destinations, which locally can be as diverse at Bath Spa University, The Forestry Commission, Pets at Home and The Bath Soft Cheese Company.

Within these learning environments, children will have access to an exciting range of topics to study, including creative writing, psychology, criminology and zoology.

The experience is designed to provide additional learning opportunities chosen by the children, while providing a link to Higher Education learning and raising the children’s own academic aspirations.

The aims of the initiative include –
• The opportunity for children to undertake projects, work directly with academic staff and access facilities at Bath Spa University.
• Targeting pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds who are very able but not reaching their full potential. B&NES local authority will fund a number of schools with such pupils to enable them to access Learning Destinations without incurring travel costs and school support cover.
• Participation in the Arts Council funded Paper Nations project.

Throughout, participating children will collect stamps on a Passport to Learning. At the end of the year there will also be a graduation ceremony for all the children who have reached the Children’s University number of hours. Graduates will dress in proper academic gowns, provided by the Children’s University.

The first graduation ceremony is due to take place on Tuesday 18 July at Bath Spa University. Each child will pay £5 to register for the initiative, with the fee including their individual Children’s University passport.

Dr Anne Bull, head teacher at Weston All Saints Primary School and initiator of the Children’s University in Bath and North East Somerset, commented, “This is such an exciting opportunity for all children to join ‘The University of Fun’ as it takes the concept of education far beyond the confines of the classroom.

“Our new Bath and North East Somerset Children’s University will open in May in partnership with the Institute for Education at Bath Spa University, local schools and Learning Destinations to ignite children’s passion for learning, raise their aspirations for the future, build their self-confidence and demonstrate the real-world relevance of subjects studied at school. Children can only aspire to what they know and we want every child to expect more for their future, be aware of the sheer array of options available to them and be confident that whichever direction they choose, they can make a success of it.”

The initial start-up costs for the programme and its ongoing management will be provided by Bath Spa University as part of their Widening Participation and Public Engagement Programmes.

For further information go to www.childrensuniversity.co.uk or Children’s University West of England, UWE Bristol, the South West regional link for the national Children’s University.