"There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." - Graham Greene

The Children's University (CU) aims to promote social mobility by providing high quality out-of-school-hours activities to children aged 7 to 14 and engaging the wider communities as learning partners in this process. An important principle of the Children's University is that participation is voluntary and it is intentionally something other than school - with a different feel, different activities and often a different location, peer group and staff. At the heart of its work is the ambition to raise aspirations, boost achievement and foster a love of learning. It enables young people to make the most of their abilities and interests, regardless of the background into which they were born. The Children's University aims particularly to reach children and young people facing socio-economic disadvantage through the targeting of grants to, and the promotion of activities in, areas of deprivation. It is here, we believe, that the benefits of high quality provision will be felt most.

(Inter)nationally and locally the Children's University is lowering, where appropriate, the access age to 5. For 5 and 6 year olds Children's University participation requires a degree of demonstrable active engagement by parents, carers and the wider family: the concept of voluntary participation for a 5 and 6 year old is clearly different to that of, say, a 14 year old; a greater degree of grown-up guidance and support will be needed. The advantage of family involvement in 5 and 6 year olds' Children's University learning is also immeasurable in terms of the Children's University's aim to turn dreams in to aspirations: a 5 year old can still dream about becoming an astronaut - it is the grown-ups who need to share those dreams, encourage the aspiration, turn the aspiration into ambition - and not erase that magic! 

The ultimate testament to the effectiveness of the Children's University is that young people give up their time to attend. They begin to realise that learning can be "...a satellite navigation system to better places in life…". The significant increase in numbers over the past year shows they do indeed attend, and the comments and recommendations of parents, teachers and the children themselves show they are engaged and inspired too.

As a rule of thumb and to quote Abbey, a nine year old CU student… "Children's University learning is like grown ups university learning…!". It is learning which can be "connected" to Higher Education course provision as exemplified on: www.ucas.com/students/coursesearch - in other words: if you can aspire to do a degree in it the Children's University wants to know! 

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