Headteachers and educationalists have backed the creation of a Children’s University in Burnley.
They met at Turf Moor, one of the “learning destinations” used by the Children’s University, to celebrate the creation of the educational initiative to help more of the borough's young people achieve their potential.
Burnley Council’s Executive agreed a three-year commitment to the local Children’s University which encourages children from the age of five to try new experiences outside of normal school hours. The executive has recommended that the full council agrees to contribute £20,000 from the council’s reserves to help fund the Children’s University when the council sets its 2018/19 budget in February 2018.
The commitment is included in a Making It In Burnley aspiration strategy drawn up by the council which also proposes a number of other measures to raise aspirations among young people.
Mark Dixon, head of Padiham Green Primary School, said: “It’s wonderful how children’s activities and accomplishments outside school are rewarded through the Children’s University. I also love how the ‘Passport’ recognition (part of the CU) widens children experiences and deepens their learning in school.”
Janet Pay, head of Wellfield Methodist and Anglican Church School, said: “We’re delighted to be part of this project which helps to recognise how hard our children and parents work to support the curriculum, both in school and out. Children’s University really helps to broaden our children’s life experiences and learning.”
A total of 15 schools in Burnley borough have already signed up to the Children's University scheme. A network of learning destinations are in place, including Turf Moor, the Mechanics Theatre, libraries and leisure centres.
Paul France, deputy chief executive of Burnley FC in the Community which is also supporting the Children’s University, said: “We’re supporting this initiative because we see the importance of raising the aspirations of our young people at an early age. The Children’s University builds on the work done inside the classroom by expanding children’s horizons and using experiences in the world outside of school to broaden their learning.”
Children’s University is a national educational charity based in Manchester. It operates in 70 areas across the country. It works with partners to create a network of “learning destinations”, places outside the school classroom, where children can learn practical skills.
Council leader Mark Townsend said: “I’d encourage other primary schools to sign up to the Children’s University and get on board with this exciting initiative.
“There are loads of exciting and educational places to visit in our borough and I’d encourage everyone with young children to make full use of them. Raising aspiration and attainment is not just about what goes on in school.
"Children need many things to support their learning in the early years and, as a council, the opportunity is there to support our families and children to be school-ready through a community based approach. This means supporting families to take part in learning opportunities outside of formal educational settings in our communities.”
Laura Grigsby, Lancashire Children’s University manager, said: “Children’s University’s innovative Passport to Learning encourages children from the age of 5 to try new learning experiences in and outside of school; at after school clubs, at home, in the local library, museum or further afield.
“If you provide high quality learning opportunities, run a club or activity and would like to become a Learning Destination, stamping students Passport to Learning then please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.”