QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 78 - Page 5

Q MU IS TO BE the first higher education institution in the east of Scotland to host the Children’s University. QMU to host C h i l d r e n ’s U n i ve r s i t y The Queen Margaret Children’s University aims to help school children, aged between 7 and 14 years of age, become confident learners and broaden their horizons. It will be the second Children’s University established in Scotland but the first initiative for young people in the east of the country. The initiative strives to raise children’s aspirations, encourages them to learn in different ways, and rewards them for taking part in a wide variety of learning activities outside of school hours. The Children’s University ethos is clearly aligned with the aims of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence in terms of helping children become successful and confident l e a r n e r s , re s p o n s i b l e citizens and effective contributors. QMU is taking the lead in establishing the Children’s University in the east of Scotland by initially working in partnership with schools via East and Mid Lothian Councils. Professor Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal at QMU, said: “QMU is absolutely delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative that will help encourage young children to get involved in different methods of learning, whilst boosting their achievement. We have always believed that children need a range of different opportunities and that not all learning needs to be school focused. The Children’s University offers a different approach and encourages children to foster a love of learning. It also creates a unique way of recognising and rewarding individuals for learning and getting involved in new things. It’s an inspirational way of engaging with the younger members of our communities and will hopefully motivate them to continue being active learners as they move through their teenage years.” Professor Gilloran continued: “We have already witnessed the success of the first year of our Academies’ p ro j e c t – a g ro u n d - b re a k i n g collaborative initiative that sees 16 – 18 year old pupils learn about key industries at school, college, university and with employers, all at the same time. The Children’s University allows us to extend unique learning opportunities to individuals in a younger age group. This type of creative model helps us take learning beyond its traditional parameters, ensuring that Scotland’s young people develop a positive attitude towards learning that will equip them for future success.” Mary Brittain, Chief Executive of Children’s University Scotland, explained how the initiative works. She said: “We provide an accreditation framework that rewards children for learning outside of normal school hours. Children can gain credits by taking part in a whole range of fun, interactive activities that can be school or community based - from drama to hip-hop dancing or from cooking to sports. Each child will get a ‘Passport to Learning’ that helps record their participation in activities. The children build up credits by engaging in learning activities and can work towards bronze, silver and gold certificates. The celebration of their achievements culminates in a graduation ceremony that will take place at Queen Margaret University. “The most important aspect of the Children’s University is that it’s a voluntary experience”, said Mary Brittain. “Children work towards building their credits in their own time. This means that their success, as part of the university experience, is a more personal achievement. Above all, it should be fun!” Ronnie Summers, Head Teacher of Musselburgh Grammar School, said: "I had heard about the work of the Children's University last year and was very keen to be involved. Children's learning does not only take place in schools - there is a wide world of opportunities to explore in the communities that surround us and the Children's University helps children be accredited for their activities in the Passport to Learning." Professor Petra Wend, QMU’s Principal, said: “QMU 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 of our primary and secondary schools in East and Mid Lothian.” ❒ QMYOU / Community Engagement 5