Eighty children donned gowns and mortarboards to take part in a Children’s University graduation ceremony at Shropshire’s Harper Adams University.
The children, aged between seven and 11, were presented with their certificates by Pauline Fisk, award-winning children’s author and Chancellor of Shropshire Children’s University, and Harper Adams University’s Vice-Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn.
Three schools took part in the event at the university’s campus near Newport on Tuesday including Whixall C of E Primary and Lower Heath C of E Primary, both from near Whitchurch, and St Peter’s C of E Primary, from Wem.
All of the children were presented with gold awards or gold certificates after completing more than 100 hours of out-of-school activities.
They were also given the chance to take part in interactive activities staged by the various academic departments at the university and were given free gifts by Syngenta and British Sugar.
Pete Jones, Director of Shropshire Children’s University, said the event, which was the first gold graduation ceremony to take place in Shropshire, had been a real success.
“What we are trying to do is encourage children to engage in out-of-school activities. We like to reward the engagement and like to encourage them to try different things,” he added.
“We validate the out-of-school clubs, and we validate things like the brownies, cubs, libraries and museums. The children collect stamps in their ‘passports’ and when they have enough stamps they graduate.
“What we do in Shropshire is graduate the children in their gowns when they reach 30 credits or 65 credits and we do that in their schools. When they reach 100 credits we graduate them at a local university, and this time it was Harper Adams’ turn and we are really excited to be here.
“Having the gold graduations at a university makes them very special. The children have loved coming to the university as they have had a lot on hands-on activities from the various departments doing some really fun things.”
Laura Coulthard, Marketing Manager for Student Recruitment and Education Liaison at Harper Adams, said the university became a member of Shropshire Children’s University earlier this year and in doing so agreed to host a graduation ceremony for the children who had achieved gold awards and gold certificates.
“The ceremony was the first of its kind at Harper Adams and likewise the first of its kind in Shropshire,” she added.
“Eighty students from three local schools took part in the day which consisted of lunch, followed by interactive activities from every faculty at Harper Adams University and then a ceremony where the children were presented with their awards.
“The day was hugely successful and the feedback from the schools has been fantastic. It was great to give the children the opportunity to experience a university graduation ceremony and to give them something to aspire to in the future.
“We very much hope to develop our involvement and to host similar events with the Children’s University in the future.”
Shropshire Children’s University was founded in 2010 and is part of a large national network of Children’s Universities.
The organisation aims to promote social mobility by providing high quality out-of-school activities for children aged seven to 14 and engaging with the wider community as a learning partner in the process.
Youngsters are issued a Passport to Learning and collect ‘stamps’ for hours of accredited learning which contribute to the awarding of national certificates.