About South Yorkshire Children’s University

Children’s University (CU) supports and encourages every child to reach their potential and become the very best they can be. Supporting children and young people to learn and celebrating their achievements has never been more important.

Local and national research shows that children and young people develop their confidence, aspirations and love of learning from the skills, characteristics and passions they develop both in and beyond the classroom.

CU motivates children and young people from the age of 5 to try new learning experiences in and outside of school; at breakfast, lunchtime and after school clubs and in their own time, in the local library, museum, sports club or exploring learning activities further afield.

Culminating in an inspirational graduation ceremony, this learning adventure gives children and young people the opportunity to enrich their childhoods, nurture a lifelong love of learning, unlock their skills and talents and develop their aspirations and confidence, regardless of their backgrounds.

How does it work?

Adult and child at graduation ceremonyChildren and young people receive 1 CU credit per hour they participate in voluntary enrichment activities, and this is celebrated through a national award scheme from the CU Trust beginning with a Bronze award for 30 hours and progressing to a Gold Fellowship for 1000 hours. With 30 steps along the way, children and young people take control of their own learning journey, working through their awards at their own pace. CU credits can be earned at school-based activities or at activities delivered in communities by approved activity providers (‘Learning Destinations’) such as uniformed groups, sports, arts, music, outdoor activities or even visits to museums, libraries, animal parks and more.

At regular intervals, children, young people and their families are invited to celebrate their commitment to learning in their own time, by receiving their CU award from a VIP at a graduation-style award ceremony, proudly wearing their cap and gown in front of families, friends and school staff.

In addition to their CU awards, children and young people can see at a glance which of the Skills Builder skills they’re developing as a result of their participation in CU activities. The language associated with essential life skills is woven through all CU activities and events, emphasising their importance and supporting children and young people to understand their lifelong relevance from an early age.

Skills Builder Universal Framework icons: listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership, teamwork

Children’s University in South Yorkshire

Map of South Yorkshire emblazened with the Children's University logoLike many other local CU centres operating across the UK as part of the Children’s University Trust, there are CU centres in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, each having their local identity and priorities, and working to support the needs of children, young people, families and schools in their own areas.

However, thanks to current investment from Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield as part of their civic agreements, they have now joined forces under the ‘South Yorkshire CU’ banner to work collaboratively. This enables the four CU centres to share best practice, develop new and innovative opportunities for schools, and to support children and families to engage and participate in their local area and beyond.

You can read more about the historical development of South Yorkshire CU here:

South Yorkshire Children’s University | Sheffield Hallam University (shu.ac.uk)

South Yorkshire Children’s University

Hepp: A partership of Sheffield Hallam University and the University of SheffieldSouth Yorkshire CU sits within the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP) which works to encourage more children, young people and adults to consider higher education opportunities, as well as raising aspirations and supporting young people to explore the options available to them. Jointly funded by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield, HEPP facilitates links into both Universities as well as schools, colleges and other networks across the region.

South Yorkshire CU team at the conferenceThe South Yorkshire CU strategy is designed to bring all four local CU centres together under the umbrella of ‘South Yorkshire CU’ to maximise efficiencies as well as sharing best practice, knowledge, skills and expertise. Managed on a part-time basis by Katie Hamshaw and Helen Oades, South Yorkshire CU supports each local CU centre in their development, as well as delivering a number of key publications and projects across the region such as the holiday activity newsletters, Project in a Box and Acorn Fund.

Meet the team