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The starting point for the Children's University learning journey

Become involved as a school

celebrating wider achievement

"It has been a huge success in our school, and it continues to grow. Children's University is by far one of the most worthwhile developments we've taken forward as a school for years!"

– Sarah Wong, Deputy Headteacher, East Lothian -


Get in touch

Raise aspirations and boost skills

Help to raise pupils’ aspirations and motivation and promote positive attitudes to learning

Support transition

Child membership bridges the primary-secondary transition, supporting children through a challenging time

Aligned with the CfE

Helping develop successful, confident learners, responsible citizens and effective contributors

Improve Attendance and attainment

Proven to increase attendance at after-school activities — shown to boost the results of target groups

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"The motivation, confidence and self-esteem of our pupils was really enhanced by their participation in the Children’s University, especially for our more practical and additional support needs pupils. It recognised their wider skills, engagement and achievements. Significantly, it also had a positive impact on learning both inside and outside of the school classroom. But above all, it was great to see our pupils so happy and positively recognised when presented with their certificates by our university partners"


Children's University School Co-ordinator

Children's University for schools

Children’s University Scotland provides a framework to record and celebrate wider achievement.

We recognise the voluntary learning that takes place outside of normal school hours: before and after school and at lunchtimes, at weekends and in holiday periods.

It promotes family learning, and connects up the learning community around your school.

It completes the learning circle for children by encouraging them to experience different ways of learning and to learn in new environments, and tends to have a greater focus on practical and social skills, rather than academic skills.

About school involvement

Find out how Children's University works for schools.

How does Children's University work?

We provide a Passport to Learning which acts as a record of the events and activities that children take part in. They collect credits by participating in these activities, and earn awards when their credits reach specific levels. We present these awards and certificates at graduation ceremonies – at real universities. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers and others can celebrate each child’s successes and achievements.

Where do the learning activities take place?

We call them learning destinations. They’re places that children can visit with their Passport to Learning to take part in high quality learning activities and experiences. They can be large educational centres, small local venues, and within the school environment itself. The key? Learning must take place outside of normal school lesson hours, and must be voluntary.

Other learning destinations include museums, art galleries, science centres, sports clubs or music groups, brownies and scout groups, parks and learning festivals. The list is almost endless.


How is achievement recorded?

As well as the hard-copy Passport to Learning, children also update their e-Passport online. This allows them to log their activities, check their award progress, add text and photos to their experiences, and search for activities.

For teachers, the e-Passport can work alongside the school’s management information system and generate reports of students’ activities. Teachers can see which children are most engaged, and those that need extra support.

Who can join Children's University Scotland?

Any child in Scotland aged 5-14 can become a member, as long as their school is already involved. Right now we work with a wide range of local authority schools.

Schools decide whether to offer Children’s University membership to all their pupils or whether to target specific year groups within the school.

What’s the cost of involvement?

There is a small cost to cover the cost of each Passport, but the arrangements for who covers this cost depend on the region. Your local Children's University centre will be able to give you more information.

Click here to find your local Children's University centre.

What is the impact?

External evaluation of the Children’s University model reflects positive impact on participants’ attendance, attainment, attitudes to learning and self-confidence. See: Evaluating provision, progress and quality of learning in the Children’s University (2012). Professor John MacBeath, University of Cambridge. Available here (pdf, 1Mb).

Other studies have found evidence that participation in extra-curricular activities is a significant factor in improving the attainment of children from the most deprived backgrounds. See this report (pdf, 2.2Mb).

Perhaps the most powerful testimony is provided by the children themselves:

“My favourite learning destinations are the museum and the library because I love the books and the Summer Reading Challenge and the different activities in the ’make and do’ part, especially the egg search. I have a bronze certificate and a silver one too. I will get my gold certificate at the next graduation ceremony. I feel great about that.”

- Alva, age 8.

What are the benefits for schools?

  • Children's University Scotland is a recognised partner in the Scottish Government's Raising Attainment Programme.
  • Supports the Curriculum for Excellence, helping children become successful and confident learners, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
  • Helps to raise pupils’ aspirations and motivation, improving attendance, achievement and attitude and supporting successful transition from primary to secondary.
  • Provides an overarching, coherent framework for all extra-curricular activity and wider achievement.
  • Actively engages parents in their child’s learning.
  • Empowers children to experience the excitement, enjoyment and satisfaction of gaining new skills, exploring and taking part in activities in different environments.

What is the process for school engagement?

The first step is to get in touch with your nearest Children's University centre.

Find your local centre.

Your local Children's University manager will take you through the joining process, including promoting Children's University to pupils and parents, using the Passport to Learning and the e-Passport and how we celebrate learning through graduations.

Quality-assured learning

We want learning to be fun, but we also want it to be relevant, high-quality and age-appropriate. That’s why we set out minimum standards for our learning destinations, and validate each venue, event and experience. Our criteria includes:

  • Available to 5-14-year-olds, on a voluntary basis and outside of normal school hours
  • Clear learning outcomes and benefits
  • Awareness of the needs of children and how they’re stimulated to learn
  • Opportunities for different styles of learning, and for children to take on different roles and responsibilities
  • Children engage in thinking, questioning, problem-solving and collaborative learning
  • Learning that broadens horizons and raises aspirations
  • Opportunities to celebrate achievement and boost confidence
  • Quality is monitored and evaluated, and children are asked for feedback

It all starts with a conversation.

Take the first step to school involvement and get in touch

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