Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis has announced he is supporting the expansion of the Children’s University across South Yorkshire.
The Children’s University is a national charity which works with schools to encourage participation in extra-curricular activities – particularly with children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Children attend special graduation ceremonies when they clock up a target number of activity hours.
The Mayor has pledged £95,000 of his Mayoral Capacity Funding to support the expansion of the successful Sheffield Children’s University model across South Yorkshire. This will include the creation of brand new Children’s Universities in Barnsley and Rotherham, and will support the future developments of the existing Children’s University centre in Doncaster.
The expansion has been made possible thanks to Sheffield Hallam University’s social mobility programme, South Yorkshire Futures, which currently hosts the South Yorkshire Children’s University team and has helped support its development over the last 12 months. The success to date has also been made possible thanks to support from Sheffield City Council, which has released expertise from Sheffield Children’s University to deliver these ambitions for the benefit of the wider region.
The Mayor visited Saint Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy, in Sheffield, to announce the news, meeting a number of Children’s University pupils and teachers to discuss the plans.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “Helping to improve life opportunities for all of our young people, to enable them to realise their full potential, is an absolute priority for my Mayoralty.
“During my visit to Saint Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy, the children told me that taking part in Children’s University activities out of school has helped them to learn new skills, make new friends and widen their range of experiences. I believe it’s so important that young people from all backgrounds get the opportunity to benefit from this fantastic project.
“This is why I’m delighted to confirm this Mayoral Capacity Fund money, to expand the Children’s University and give children from across South Yorkshire the range of opportunities that they so deserve.”
The Sheffield Children’s University, run by Katie Hamshaw and Helen Oades, is the biggest model in the country. Since its launch in 2005, more than 15,000 children and young people have attended graduation ceremonies. Katie and Helen will now be in charge of the expansion project across South Yorkshire.
Katie said: “Through my work at Sheffield Children’s University, I have seen first-hand the positive and lasting impact it has on attainment, self-confidence and aspiration for children and young people.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Dan Jarvis and the Sheffield City Region to extend Children’s University and its benefits across South Yorkshire, giving us the opportunity to reach even more children and their families.”
Cathy Sinclair, Head of UK Student Recruitment at Sheffield Hallam and South Yorkshire Futures Aspiration Lead, said: “Supporting young people to identify and achieve their aspirations is a fundamental ambition of South Yorkshire Futures and we are extremely proud of our partnership with the Children’s University, which has a proven record of improving attainment and aspiration in young people.
“Through the first year of South Yorkshire Futures, we have already been able to increase opportunities for participation in Children’s University across the region. This commitment from Dan Jarvis will further support us in achieving our ambition to extend the reach and impact of Children’s University across the whole of South Yorkshire over the next few years.”