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Learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom. Children can learn new things in all sorts of places: at museums, on nature walks, by playing sports, and more.

Logo: Children's University. The Council works with the Children’s University to help children keep track of the things they’ve achieved outside the classroom. The scheme is for children aged 7-14. Children at participating schools each get a Children’s University passport, and for each activity they complete, they get a stamp. Their achievements are then rewarded with certificates and graduation ceremonies once they reach certain milestones.

Aiming higher

By taking part in the scheme, children come to understand that learning can help them achieve their goals in life – whether that’s a place at university or a particular career path or skill.

We hold regular graduation ceremonies to help children celebrate their success – recently ceremonies have been held in partnership with Nottingham Trent University.


Many schools already offer a wide range of activities outside of school time. In addition, local museums, libraries, country parks, galleries and sports clubs can apply to be certified Public Learning Destinations. This means they have been assessed and found to offer valuable educational activities.

Activities that earn a stamp in a Children’s University passport might include:

  • Sport
  • Gardening
  • Building a go-kart
  • Visiting an art gallery
  • Singing in a choir
  • Learning to DJ
  • Taking cookery lessons
  • Going on a nature trail.

The activities are all things that could also be studied at a university – for example, building a go kart involves children learning about engineering, while a visit to an art gallery might take in aspects of art history. It’s important that activities are educational, but it’s essential that they are enjoyable, so that children will choose to take part in them in their own time.

Photo of children at their graduation.

What the experts say

Research shows a clear link between participation in study support activities and academic progress, due to increased self-esteem and confidence. A national evaluation of the Children’s University was carried out in 2010/11 by  Professor John MacBeath at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education. He found that:

  • Being in the Children’s University significantly improves school attendance.
  • Achievement is significantly better at Key Stages 1 to 3 for children who participate in Children’s University compared with those who don’t.
  • The further children engage with Children’s University, the better their attendance and achievement.

Find out more

For further information, contact the Council’s Children’s University manager, Tricia Allan, by email to

Visit the Children’s University website to learn more about the scheme.

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