Friday, 31 January 2020

Looking for your February fun?

The Sheffield Children's University Passport to Learning newsletter which includes details of activities happening across Sheffield during the February half term holiday is now available!

Children and young people who take along a Passport to Learning to all the activities listed in the newsletter will be able to earn additional CU credits at these activities. These are available from Sheffield libraries, and some Learning Destinations across the city. There's also an up to date list and contact details of our validated Learning Destinations.

You can download a copy here:

We’re also really excited to launch our newest project…2020: Year of the Nurse!
We’re working in partnership with Weston Park Hospital to bring lots of exciting and fun learning activities and opportunities throughout 2020 so keep an eye on our social media pages for news and events.

There will be a special challenge in each of our Passport Activity Newsletters in the school holidays. As always, to collect CU credits, you’ll need to attend a Sheffield school and have a Passport to Learning (available from Sheffield libraries for £3.50 each). See the newsletter for more details.

To keep up to date with all things CU, find us on Facebook, and Twitter!

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Celebrating 2019!

The festive season is upon us, the year is drawing to a close, and there is only one thing to do.

We think 2019 has been one of our best yet! Here’s our Sheffield CU year in numbers…
  • 45,287 children and young people with CU credits in Sheffield
  • 3,336,387 CU credits awarded so far
  • 2,422 CU out of school activities registered with us in 2019 (and counting!)
  • 73 schools signed up and engaged with Sheffield Children’s University
  • 223 Learning Destinations (approved activity providers) participating across Sheffield. 85 Learning Destinations were revalidated in 2019 to ensure they were continuing to deliver high quality out of school activities.
  • 4,000 Gold awards, 5,000 Silver & 6,500 Bronze awards have been issued during 2019. There have been an amazing 85,000 CU Awards issued since 2008 proving just how talented and committed Sheffield children, young people and families are to their out of school learning!
  • The 100th Sheffield CU Gold Award Ceremony was celebrated across 3 extra special ceremonies in November. This gave us time to reflect on our growth over the years which started with 1 annual ceremony for 70 award winners in 2009 and now, there were 12 ceremonies for over 4,000 award winners hosted by the team in 2019!
  • 16 Learning Destinations delivered 48 free taster sessions as part of the 5th annual Sheffield CU Festival of Fun. Collectively, they offered over 1,500 hours of activity to children and families at 35 venues across Sheffield during summer 2019.
  • 90 children and young people from 9 schools took part in the Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield CU Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds celebration event at the University in June. The Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds 'Project in a Box' provided fun, engaging after school activities which were designed to help boost young people's confidence and wellbeing and support them to develop healthy and happy relationships with other people.
  • 8 activities were funded through the Sheffield CU Acorn Fund which enables children and young people to bid for funds to develop, sustain or re-invigorate a CU activity in school. Activities funded in this round included a basketball, slime club, switch club (SEND), art club, cooking club, gardening club and a sign language club
  • 36 children and young people invited to attend our 1000 hr graduation experience for achieving their Gold Fellowship Award, the highest CU honour. They were invited to experience a ‘real’ graduation during graduation week at Sheffield Hallam University and had the opportunity to follow the graduation journey of a student, try on University caps and gowns, were presented with outstanding achievement awards and had official photos and a toast.
  • 1 Women of Sheffield Mary Anne Rawson education award was won by Katie in March for her work building and developing Sheffield CU over the last ten years. Katie was so proud to be nominated, but to win was a real honour especially in the name of Mary Anne Rawson, an anti-slavery campaigner who selflessly dedicated her time to the education and aid of the less fortunate in Sheffield and set up the first school in Wincobank, along with many other achievements!
  • £95,000 pledged by the South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis to support the expansion of our successful Sheffield Children's University model across South Yorkshire. This work, led by Katie and Helen through Sheffield Hallam University has already resulted in the creation of a brand new Children's University in Rotherham, led by Rotherham School Improvement Service who are currently working with 13 schools and are developing their Passport to Learning offer too. It will also support the future developments of the existing Children's University centres in Doncaster and here in Sheffield too as well as support the set-up of another brand new CU centre in Barnsley.
  • 26 schools have signed up to take part in the Sheffield Theatres Project in a Box, which provides schools with a specially commissioned script that doesn’t have an ending! Schools will develop and deliver a CU theatres club and give children and young people the opportunity to grow their character, storytelling and performance techniques by completing the play. They will then come together and have the opportunity to perform their version on the Crucible stage next summer
  • And a partridge in a pear treeeee!☺

Finally, we want to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thank you to you, along with all our colleagues, schools, Learning Destinations and partners for supporting our work and ensuring the children and young people of our wonderful city are celebrated and rewarded for their achievements.

We hope you enjoy the festive season, have a restful break and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Merry Christmas! 

Katie, Helen, Sakina, Laura and Amy
The Sheffield CU Team

Monday, 7 October 2019

Sheffield CU - How does it make a difference?

It's here, it's here! We are very pleased and proud to share with you our new look 2018 ‘Sheffield Children’s University – How does it make a difference?’ report which provides detailed evidence of the positive impact being part of Children’s University in Sheffield makes.

Any school, Learning Destination, family or child will tell you that being part of CU and being celebrated and rewarded for taking part in out of school activities makes a real difference. Here in Sheffield, we do lots of work looking at the impact of participation in these activities, through lots of data analysis, but also through case studies and evidence collected from schools, providers, parents and the children themselves. With over 45,000 children and young people in our city with CU credits, we have a lot of information to work with!

This report builds on our previous analysis and includes a detailed look at the impact of participation in CU activities on achievement, attendance and progress in school, as well as the stories behind the data, providing evidence of impact through a number of case studies. It incorporates recently introduced performance measures as well as examining the impact on the most vulnerable children and young people in the city and progression routes for post 16 students.

And the results are overwhelmingly positive! Click here to view the full report:

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Changes to Passport to Learning Awards Ceremonies & Charges

The Passport to Learning Scheme

Children and young people who attend a Sheffield school which IS NOT subscribed to Sheffield Children’s University (CU) can still earn CU credits. They do this by participating in activities at validated Learning Destinations (approved activity providers), collecting their CU credits in a Passport to Learning. Their Gold award certificates and badges are presented at special award ceremonies which are held at two points during the year – around October and May. Bronze and Silver Awards are posted to their home addresses at those times if they’ve not quite reached a Gold level. We only issue our awards at these points during the year.

Ticket Charges for Award Ceremonies

In order to provide our service, we need to cover the costs of the adding, tracking and processing of CU credits in our database for these children, as well as producing the certificates, reports and badges that the children and young people receive and the cost of the award ceremonies themselves. As a result, we have always charged a set ticket price at the point at which a child/young person achieves a Gold level award (100, 200, 300, etc. credits) and is invited to the awards ceremony to help support us to cover this cost. Have a look at the additional sheet which explains our badge structure…
The current charge of £6.50 has only increased by £1.50 since 2013 as the Sheffield CU Team have worked hard to absorb some of the increase in costs as we wanted to support as many children and families as possible to attend our ceremonies. However, as CU in Sheffield grows, children and young people are taking part in more and more activities (which is great!) and this has led to an increase in the number of awards being achieved by children and young people, and often these are all presented to them at a single awards ceremony. Currently, the one-off charge is made regardless of the number of awards, and often is being stretched to cover multiple awards per child, while others might only receive one award but both would have paid the same amount. We recognise this is unfair, and want to ensure our charging policy changes to reflect this. We also need to make sure we can cover our costs so we are able to keep Sheffield CU going, and can continue to reward and celebrate as many children and young people for their commitment to voluntary learning as possible!

New Charges from September 2019

We want to ensure Sheffield CU remains as accessible as possible to all our families, and have carefully considered our options and the implications to ensure they are as fair as possible too. As a result, we have implemented the following charges from September 2019…

Cost per award winner
This includes…
£5.00 ticket charge
-    The award-winning child and ONE parent/carer to attend the Gold Awards Ceremony
£3.00 per Gold award due
-   The Gold certificate and badge (this also covers Bronze and Silver awards earned at the same certificate level – see badge structure for more details)
-   Each award-winning child receives a Learning Profile (report of their participation in CU activities)

Here are a few examples to help explain – use the image above to help guide you through the badge structure…

Awards due
Total cost
Child A
Gold Certificate (200), Silver Certificate (165), Bronze Certificate (130)
Gold Awards Ceremony ticket price of £5.00 plus one Gold Award @ £3.00 each

Child B
Bronze Doctorate (830), Gold Masters Degree (800), Silver Masters Degree (765), Bronze Masters Degree (730), Gold Postgraduate Diploma (700), Silver Postgraduate Diploma (665), Bronze Postgraduate Diploma (630)
Gold Awards Ceremony ticket price of £5.00 plus two Gold Awards at £3.00 each

We’ve tried to answer any questions you might have here…

Why do some children have to pay for their awards and others don’t?

Only children and young people who attend Sheffield schools which ARE NOT subscribed to Sheffield CU need to pay for their CU awards (which includes the tracking and coordination behind them). These costs for children and young people who attend schools which ARE part of Sheffield CU are covered through the school’s annual subscription charge, which is why they don’t have to pay as individuals.

Why have you increased the charge? Do we still have to pay for the Passport to Learning?
We need to ensure we are covering the costs of the award certificates and badges, the awards ceremonies and the administration and tracking that goes behind all the awards and ceremonies. The charge has only increased by £1.50 since July 2013, and has been £6.50 for the last two years. We have been able to absorb some of the increases so far but this is no longer the case. We are committed to delivering a high quality experience and lots of fun, learning opportunities for the families of Sheffield, and increasing our costs slightly will help us to continue to do this. The new charging structure will be fairer too. Children and young people will still need to have a Passport to Learning to collect their CU credits in, when they attend activities at Learning Destinations. They can be purchased from any Sheffield library for £3.50 each.

How will we know when my child is due to attend an awards ceremony?

At two points during the year, October and May, we run data reports to identify which children and young people are due to receive awards at that time. If your child has reached a Gold level, you will receive an invitation letter posted to your home address with all the details of the awards ceremony and the cost you’ll need to pay and how you can do this. We have your home address on our database which uses the information held by your child’s school so if you move home, change school, etc. our database will automatically be updated from the school’s records.

How will I know how much I’ll need to pay?

We’ll calculate the amount based on the model described above and your letter will tell you how much you’ll need to pay. The cost will be £5.00 to attend the ceremony plus £3 per Gold Award due to be received. The charge per Gold Award includes the cost of the Bronze and Silver awards earned at the same certificate level – see the CU awards sheet for more details.

Does my child have to wait until they reach a Gold level to receive their Bronze and Silver awards?

No. If, at those two points during the year when we run the data reports (October and May), your child has achieved a Bronze and/or a Silver level award (but not a Gold level award), then these will be created and posted out to you at this time.

What happens if we can’t attend the ceremony my child is invited to?

You can phone us (within the timescales outlined on the invitation letter) and pay for the awards over the phone and we can post them directly to your home address. You will only need to pay £3 per Gold Award to be sent to your home address plus £2 postage. The next time your child achieves a Gold level award, you will be invited to an awards ceremony.

Please note, we will continue to invite your child to an awards ceremony up to a maximum of three consecutive events without you attending. After this time, we’ll no longer send out the invitations unless you contact us and pay for any outstanding awards. This will trigger the invitations to be sent to you for future awards ceremonies once your child has reached the next Gold level award.

If you need any further information or clarification, do contact our team via email or by phone on 0114 2039134. As always, thank you for your continued support with Sheffield Children’s University and we look forward to meeting you and celebrating the achievements of your children at one of our awards ceremonies in the future.

Friday, 20 September 2019

CU Online - new place to find Learning Destinations!

New CU Online system

The summer break has been a busy one for everyone in Children’s University as the CU Trust have launched their brand new web platform, 'CU Online'.  There are lots of new elements to the platform including an ability for local CUs to use it to track their children’s CU credits.  However, we won’t be using this facility in Sheffield because we’ve have had our own database for years that is already tracking around 3 million credits earned by around 45,000 children!  As you can probably imagine, it’s not easy to unpick that and we don’t want children losing credits in the process! However we will be exploring ways in which we can link closely or start to utilise the system over time.  

Find a Learning Destination

But, the really good element of CU Online which we WILL be using, is the search facility to find Learning Destinations. Previously, the ‘Children’s University App’ enabled families to search for Learning Destinations up and down the country – perfect for planning your breaks or holidays away.  But, much of the information was out of date and some of the Learning Destinations on there we no longer operating.  So, CU Trust took the opportunity to refresh the whole system.  We’re always committed to ensuring the information we provide is accurate, and that the learning that takes place at the CU Learning Destinations is good quality.  We also wanted to make sure that all of those organisations are aware of their own commitments to CU and that they share our aims and objectives – why we do what we do! 
What the Children's University home page looks like

The App is no longer in use but instead you can find all the info you need for all things CU in one place –  You can find contact details for all the local CUs (including ours), the background to CU, why it’s important and the difference it makes.  And importantly, this is where you will find all the details of the CURRENT Learning Destinations where you can collect your CU credits in your Passport to Learning – just click on the ‘find an activity in your area’ in the middle of the screen.

Learning Destinations across the UK

If you’re planning a day-trip, short break or holiday in the UK, have a look at the Learning Destinations near your location. Don’t forget, if you take part in their activities (as they’ve detailed them on the website), you’ll need to get your Passport to Learning signed AND to claim your credits from us, you’ll need to complete and send in a Passport Activity Diary Sheet (which you can download from our website).  For activities completed from 1st September 2019, we will only award CU credits earned at Learning Destinations beyond Sheffield that are live on the new CU Online system.

Check your Learning Destinations are still validated

Each local CU is responsible for validating each of their local Learning Destinations.  We’ve been doing this throughout the summer here in Sheffield which has resulted in some Learning Destinations being de-validated.  This might be because they’re no longer operating, or perhaps because they’ve not been sending in their CU registers to us regularly enough over the last 12 months or so, risking children losing their CU credits. Others are in the process of re-validating so that we can refresh their information once again. There are also some brand new organisations joining us, so keep an eye on the CU Trust webpages for updated information. As we complete the process, more and more Sheffield Learning Destinations will appear on the new pages, so bear with us - we’ve had over 200 to work through!

Receive our parent/carer newsletter for a regularly updated list

As always, the most up to date list of current SHEFFIELD Learning Destinations (from Weds 25th Sept 19) can be found on our website and it is always included at the back of our Passport Activity Newsletters which are published just before every school holiday (except Christmas).  If you’d like to receive this newsletter direct to your inbox, just email with your email address and we’ll add you to our parent/carer mailing list.

So, do have a look at our local list of Learning Destinations to check yours is still there. If not, this means that you can no longer collect CU credits in your Passport to Learning. It might be that they’re in the process of re-validating (you’ll be able to collect credits again, as soon as they do) so it’s worth talking to them to check.

As always, we welcome new activity providers so if you know of one in Sheffield that isn’t already a Learning Destination, then you can nominate them by emailing their details to

Monday, 12 August 2019

Sheffield Bricktropolis is back!

Are you ready for Sheffield to be transformed into a city of Lego bricks again this summer? We are so excited about Sheffield Bricktropolis, which will be taking place in the city centre between 17th -30th August and has been brought to you by the fab team at Sheffield BID!

One of the fantastic activities on offer is the Sheffield Bricktropolis Trail. Building on the success of the World landmarks trail last year, this summer sees a new space trail join the Bricktropolis programme. Expect to see aliens, astronauts, space rockets and much more!

The good news is that children and young people who have a Passport to Learning will be able to collect CU credits for taking part in this trail by filling out our special activity sheet and returning it to the Sheffield CU Team! There are 3 CU credits on offer for every child who takes part in the trail AND completes the Sheffield CU activity sheet! You can download a copy of the sheet here:

Trail maps are available now at Sheffield BID’s Unit 1 next to the Winter Garden on Surrey Street (open 10am to 6pm Monday – Saturday (7pm Thursdays) and 11am to 4pm Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday). Maps will also be available at participating venues or you can simply download one here:

Please be aware that you MUST complete the Sheffield CU activity sheet in full as well as take part in the trail to earn CU credits. This MUST be returned via post to the Sheffield CU team to be awarded credits.

Happy Lego hunting!

Friday, 12 July 2019

The Sheffield CU Summer Passport Activity newsletter 2019 - Our BIGGEST newsletter yet!

Are you looking for some summer fun? Well look no further! The Sheffield Children's University Passport to Learning newsletter which includes details of activities happening across Sheffield during the summer holidays is now available!

As well as our fantastic FREE Festival of Fun, our Learning Destinations are also delivering lots of fabulous activities right through the summer, where you can collect CU credits. We have pulled together this information into our summer activity newsletter, which you can find here:  so you can start planning your summer now! This is our biggest EVER newsletter, packed full of exciting activities so make sure you check it out!

Children and young people who take along a Passport to Learning to all the activities listed in the newsletter will be able to earn additional CU credits at these activities. These are available from Sheffield libraries, and some Learning Destinations across the city. There's also an up to date list and contact details of our validated Learning Destinations. You can also find a link to the right of this blog too!

For all the latest Festival of Fun info and updates:

Find us on Facebook:

Follow us on Twitter: @SheffieldCU