THE first Children’s University graduation ceremony has taken place in Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh.
Around 60 pupils from East Lothian schools took part in the ceremony, the first of its kind.
Dressed in traditional gowns and mortar boards, the junior scholars graduating were from East Lothian schools Pencaitland Primary, Yester Primary, Ross High, Sanderson’s Wynd Primary and Stoneyhill Primary.
QMU is the first higher education institution in the east of Scotland to host the Children’s University, which targets children aged between seven and 14 with the aim of helping them become confident learners.
Aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence, the initiative is designed to help children become successful learners, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Pupils can work towards bronze, silver and gold certificates as part of the Children’s University, with over 1400 pupils from East Lothian and Midlothian signing up to the scheme in 2014 alone.
Of that number, 100 have already secured a minimum 30 hours of learning activities outwith school hours, including dancing, painting, modern languages and gardening.
The ceremony was attended by Fiona McLeod - acting Minister for Children and Young People, along with Petra Wend, the Principal of QMU; Mary De la Peña MBE, Chief Executive of Children’s University Scotland, Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal of QMU and Callum Maguire the Head of Outreach and Community Engagement at QMU and Coordinator of the Queen Margaret Children’s University.
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Mary De la Peña MBE , Chief Executive of Children’s University Scotland, explained how the initiative works, adding: “We provide an accreditation framework which rewards children for learning outside of normal school hours. Children can gain credits by taking part in a whole range of fun, interactive activities which can be school based or in the community - from drama to hip-hop dancing or from cooking to sports. Each child will get a ‘Passport to Learning’ which helps record their participation in activities.
“The most important aspect of the Children’s University is that it’s a voluntary experience”, said explained.
“Children work towards building their credits in their own time which means that their success, as part of the university experience, is a more personal achievement. Above all, it should be fun.”
Professor Petra Wend, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Queen Margaret University, added: “Queen Margaret University is fully committed to widening access and supporting learning in the community. Our involvement with the Children’s University allows us to help develop and provide opportunities for young people from wide ranging backgrounds. We look forward to implementing the scheme in many more of our primary and secondary schools in East and Midlothian.”
Acting Minister for Children and Young People Fiona McLeod said: “A graduation ceremony is always a time for celebration and all of the graduates from this inaugural ceremony deserve huge credit for the work they have put in. This is an impressive milestone not just for Queen Margaret University but for the five schools involved so far.
“From meeting the pupils who have participated and their teachers, parents and even some grandparents, it is clear the learning opportunities being delivered through the Children’s Universities are engaging young people in new and innovative ways. The Scottish Government is proud to support this as one of several means to improve attainment prospects in schools across Scotland, which is why we recently committed £90,000 to widen access to Children’s Universities to an additional 2,600 young people by the end of 2015-16.”
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