Children's University

What is it?

The Children's University is a national organisation offering children aged 5-14 an exciting and innovative programme of high quality learning opportunities outside school hours, with a focus on rewarding participation, raising aspirations and encouraging engagement with learning. Children's University provision is delivered outside school hours, at weekends and in the holidays.

There are currently over 90 local Children’s Universities across the UK, this includes Plymouth

Children are all given their own “Passport to Learning” in which they are encouraged to collect hours of learning towards nationally recognised awards for between 30, and 1000 hours of learning. We currently have over 5000 children who attend Children’s University events

Where can Children use their passports?

At validated ‘Learning Destinations’, these may be clubs at school or more public destinations such as Plymouth District Scouts, City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth Youth Music Service,The Ski Centre, local libraries or the Mountbatten Watersports Centre. All these Destinations have been checked for quality by a team of nationally trained validators and will display the following logo.

More and more venues across Plymouth are becoming Learning Destinations

Passports cost £2.00 and are available from school or from some Learning Destinations

Who is it for?

The Children's University is aimed at 5 to 14 year olds of all abilities.

How does it work?

Once children become members of the Children’s University they are encouraged to progress through the national certification scheme, based on their number of hours of attendance throughout their involvement with the Children’s University. Bronze, silver and gold certificates are awarded at CU Undergraduate, CU Postgraduate and CU Doctorate levels, rewarding participation in CU learning from 30 to 1000 hours. Honorary certificates are also awarded for outstanding achievement and commitment.

We are working closely with Plymouth University and every year we will work with them to provide a formal graduation ceremony for young people when they have participated in 100 or more hours of learning.

Children’s Lectures

Children's University lectures on the life of insects and insect model making hosted by the University of Plymouth proved popular with children and parents alike.  Arctic explorer Antony Jinman's recent Children’s University lecture was also a great success. Antony has become chancellor of Plymouth Children’s University and he attended the 2010 National Children’s University conference. To find out more about this, go to Antony’s website  

Plymouth Children's University will continue to organise additional FREE evening lectures in partnership with leading providers. Information about these will be sent schools and will be posted on our local website

What are the benefits?

The 2010 national evaluation undertaken by Cambridge University found that

1.Being in the Children’s University significantly improves school attendance.

2. Achievement is significantly better at Key Stages 1 to 3 for children who participate in Children’s University compared with non-attenders.

3. The further children engage with Children’s University, the better their attendance and achievement.

4. Children’s University provides an environment for self-driven, confident and collegial learning.

5. Children’s University provides a safe haven and models positive relationships.

6. Pupils and teachers testify to life changing experiences.

7. ‘ Opportunity costs’ are high for children in disadvantaged areas who do not attend Children’s University.

8. Certificates, credits, Passports To Learning and graduations are valued incentives and rewards.

9. University settings help to inspire and raise aspirations for children, and their parents.

10. Children’s University has helped to “make learning a reality beyond academic studies.

How can I find out more?

On the national website

On the local website

or by contacting

 Carol Henwood 01752 307455 



Over 6000 children now have passports!

Lectures so far!

Polar Exploration

Natural History of Borneo


Visit Lord Mayors Parlour

The Truth Behind Finding Nemo

Tour of West Devon Record Office

OPAL Wildlife Photo Competition

A Year in Madagascar

Marine Photography


HMS Heritage and HMS Courageous Tour

Love Parks Week

Discover Bugs and Pond Life

Backstage Tour of Theatre Royal

Immersive Vision Theatre

Wildlife of Plymouth

Space Invaders


Learning Destinations

Alison Sawle School of Dance

Armed Forces Day 2013

B and Q

Barbican Theatre

Beckly Centre

Bickleigh Riding Stables

Boys Brigade

Celia Parker School of Dance

China Fleet Club

City of Plymouth Athletics

Dartmoor National Park Authority

Dartmoor Zoo

Devonport Royal Swimming Association

Diggin It

Discovery Tours

Everyone Active

Education through Expeditions

Elizabethan House

Emerge Community Circus

Excellence Cluster Holiday Club

Food Is Fun ( Food Festival)

Ford Park Cemetery

Geraldine Lamb School of Dance

Girl Guides

Goals Football

Guild of Devonshire Ringers

Hamoaze House

Hannahs at Seale Hayne

Hartley School of Dance

Helen Hillard Ballet Classes

Heritage Site

Hill Lane Tennis Club

HMS Courageous

HMS Heroes

Horizons Sailing

Instrumental Music Services

Life Centre

Living Coasts

Lord Mayors Day

Love Parks Week

Marjons Sport

Master St James Martial Arts

Merchants House

Minster Church of St Andrews

Mountbatten Watersports Centre

National Children’s Orchestra

National Marine Aquarium

Newton Ferrers Riding School

Open Air Laboratories

Paul Davies Swimming

Paignton Zoo

Pilgrim Centre


Plymouth Boat Trips

Plymouth District Scouts

Plymouth Fencing Club

Plymouth Libraries

Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery

Plymouth and West Devon Record Office

Plymouth Sports Academy

Plymouth Ski and Snowboarding Centre

Plymouth Wheel

Plymouth Youth Music Service

Plymouth Youth Sailing

Plymouth Youth service

Polar Fun Days

Real Ideas Organisation

Regardez-Moi Drama Group

RNRM Swimming Club

River Cottage

Shannon Coaching

Sky Ride Plymouth

Saltram House

Smeatons Tower

South Hams Tae Kwando

Sport Unlimited

St John’s Ambulance

St Pauls Church Youth Club


Stepping Stones to Nature

Stiltskin Creative Arts and Theatre Company

Stonehouse Play Association

Street Factory Dance

Summer mix

Summer reading Challenge

Swallows Gymnastics


Theatre Royal and TR2

Village Gymnastics and Tumbling




Young Motion Plymouth