The Children's University (CU) Trust is managed through a network of over 80 local children's universities in England, including the Service Children's Education Schools CU. Each one is distinctive in character, responding to the needs of the local community within the quality assurance framework of the CU Trust. In addition to a growing CU presence in the Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, international CU Trust development is in progress in the Netherlands, Malaysia and Australia.
The Children's University aims to promote social mobility by providing high quality, exciting and innovative learning activities and experiences outside normal school hours to children aged 7 to 14 (and 5 and 6 year olds with their families) and engaging the wider communities as learning partners in the realisation of this. At the heart of its work is the ambition to raise aspirations, boost achievement and foster a love of learning, so that young people can make the most of their abilities and interests, regardless of the background into which they were born. Although open to all, the CU aims particularly to reach children and young people facing socio-economic and educational 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 and opportunities will be felt most.
An important principle of the Children's University is that participation is voluntary. It is intentionally something other than school - with a different feel, different activities and often a different location, staff and peer group. So the ultimate testament to the effectiveness of the Children's University is that young people give up their time to attend and that they begin to realise that learning can be "...a satellite navigation system to better places in life…". The significant increases in numbers over the past five years show they do indeed attend, and the comments and recommendations of parents, teachers and the children themselves show they are engaged and inspired too.