It was graduation day for children as young as five in Wakefield this week.
The Children’s University’s first ever graduation ceremony was held at the Theatre Royal Wakefield on Wednesday – complete with authentic caps and gowns.
Run by Wakefield College, the Children’s University (CU) aims to raise the aspirations of children and young people aged between five and 14, to encourage them to go on to further and higher education.
Youngsters are given a ‘passport to learning’ and collect stamps for doing out-of-school activities, which can be anything from going to an art gallery to completing a summer reading scheme at the local library.
Organisations have to be accredited by the university, and when they have enough stamps to get a bronze, silver, gold or degree certificate, they are invited to a graduation ceremony.
The event was attended by proud parents, teachers and CU patrons, including Sir Rodney Walker, leader of Wakefield Council, Peter Box and local entrepreneur, Adeem Younis.
James Pennington, programme manager for partnerships at Wakefield College, said: “The graduation event was a huge success and all the children involved seem to have enjoyed themselves a great deal. The atmosphere was great and it was nice to everyone together celebrating the success of the pupils.
“The Wakefield Children’s University continues to go from strength to strength and we are looking forward to welcoming more young people onto the scheme and seeing more of them graduating in years to come.”
As well as certificate presentations, audiences were entertained by Wakefield College’s Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts students, who performed an extract from Dancing Daughters, and students from the Cathedral Academy of Performing Arts who performed a piece from Les Miserables.
The scheme is designed to be fun as well as educational, encouraging children to do things they enjoy, as well as experiencing new things. Organisations already accredited include Wakefield Theatre Royal, The Hepworth Gallery, the Wakefield Wildcats and Wakefield One.
Older children also have the opportunity to become volunteers.
To find out how your school or child can sign up, visit www.wakefield.ac.uk/childrensuniversity