Thursday, 14 December 2017

Celebrating 2017!

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


We think this has been one of our best yet! Highlights include:
  • 40,293 children and young people are registered with CU in Sheffield and have collectively gained 2,455,416 credits in total so far. That’s 464,603 hours that children and young people have taken part in during 2017, and an additional 4,000 children and young people who have started collecting CU credits during this year alone!
  • We reached another significant milestone back in March and were very proud to announce that children and young people in Sheffield had clocked up over 2 million hours of voluntary learning in their own time, all tracked and rewarded by Sheffield CU. We celebrated this at our March award ceremonies, presenting Georgia Taylor from Southey Green with the 2 millionth hour on behalf of the children of Sheffield. We were overwhelmed with all the positive feedback and press coverage we received, and can’t wait to reach the next million which we hope will happen during the first half of 2018
  • There are now 209 Learning Destinations (and counting!) across Sheffield. This year, to our family of Learning Destinations, we have added a number of new organisations including 33rd Sheffield Scout Group, 54th Sheffield (St Luke's Rainbows, Brownies and Guides), 57th Fulwood Rainbows, 61st Sheffield Scouts, 267th Dore Beavers, 273rd Handsworth Beavers, Cubs & Scouts, Bradi Lea Dance Company, Chapeltown Amateur Swimming Club, Dan Johnson Drum Lessons, Foresteers, Foxhill Forum, From Small Seeds Children's Yoga, Fulwood Sports Club (Squash Coaching), Fun Science – Sheffield, KUMON, Lauren McCaslin School of Theatre Dance, Learn Spanish with Liz, Little Sheffield, Music City Music School, Phoenix Gymnastics Academy, Sheffield Academy of Martial Arts, Sheffield Bridge Club, Sheffield Wednesday, Silverwood Music School, SoccerEds/EvoSoccer, Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre, Tom Warner (percussion), Wild Spirit Allstars and Wild Wood Activities. We have also been revalidating a large number of providers that have been involved for over 3 years to ensure they were able to keep their Learning Destination status. This is an important part of our work to ensure all CU credits received at our Learning Destinations are earned by taking part in good quality out of school structured learning right across the board.
  • There are currently 70 schools subscribed to Sheffield Children’s University. New additions include Halfway Infant School, Hallam Primary School and Becton School, with 5 more on the waiting list to start in the new year! We were also thrilled that 99% of our CU schools chose to re-subscribe this year, which is our highest ever retention rate!
  • During 2017, Sheffield CU have given out nearly 6,000 Bronze Awards, 4,000 Silver Awards and have had a fabulous 2,733 Gold Award winners who have been invited to attend one of our fantastic award ceremonies at the Town Hall, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and EISS. That’s a further 26% increase in Gold Award winners when compared to last year (which saw a 26% increase too!). During November, we were really excited to host our very first ceremonies at the English Institute of Sport in partnership with Sheffield International Venues. They were our biggest ceremonies yet as during this month alone, we created nearly 3,000 awards for our fantastic CU members! 
  • We were really excited to launch our brand new Award Certificates in September. Developed by the national CU Trust, they have been updated to a more modern design and now include a foil imprint. Whilst the framework remains the same in terms of award intervals (e.g. 30hrs Bronze, 65hrs Silver, 100hrs Gold etc), the design is very different to our previous awards, and has been very well received by our award winners and their families at our Autumn ceremonies!
  • We were very proud to successfully maintain our Advanced Quality in Study Support (QiSS) status during the summer. QiSS is a national quality assurance framework that schools and learning organisations can utilise to demonstrate that they deliver high quality provision that makes a real difference to children, young people and families. The achievement of the three quality marks demonstrates excellence in a variety of areas including raising attainment and achievement and engaging learners with a variety of needs. The Sheffield CU team previously received Advanced status (the final level of a 3 step award system) back in June 2014 after a very rigorous external validation process. In order to maintain our Advanced status which expired after 3 years, we were tasked with building another portfolio which provided evidence of how we have continued to develop a high quality service. We also demonstrated how we developed our Advanced practice even further by leading training and strategically supporting our area of work at local and national levels. 
  • We published our 2016 ‘Sheffield Children’s University – How does it make a difference?’ report which contains in-depth analysis of the impact of participation in CU activities on attainment and attendance, and progress measures, as well as anecdotal evidence of impact through a number of case studies. For the first time, this report also included a detailed look at new performance measures as well as examining the impact on the most vulnerable children and young people in the city. Findings from this report are again very positive and provide further evidence of the clear link between participation in CU activities and academic performance and attendance, reflecting findings of annual reports produced in Sheffield since 2009. For more details, or to view a copy of the report, please visit:
  • Our ‘Project in a Box’ programme continues to thrive as we hosted both our Gardening box celebration event in Norfolk Park, and Samba Day at Sheffield City Hall during the summer term. We were thrilled to provide over 400 children from 35 schools with the opportunity to share skills, learn something new, AND have lots of fun too. We also created Sheffield’s largest Samba band on the City Hall steps! We recently rolled out the 2017/18 programme and are proud to work in partnership with Ignite Imaginations to deliver our ‘Art in a Box’ project to 30 of our CU schools. At the recent schools twilight training event held at the Sheffield Institute for Art, there were 38 school staff who came to develop their skills, a record turn out!
  • Back at the beginning of the year, we funded over 20 new out of school activities in our CU schools through our 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 Lego Construction Club, Archery Club, Sensory Club, Gymnastics, an Animation Club and a Climbing/Bouldering Club! Applications to our Acorn Fund for this academic year are currently beginning accepted until mid January so we look forward to reading lots more applications very soon!
  • The Sheffield CU Festival of Fun was back and bigger and better than ever in 2017! We kicked off proceedings in style with a fantastic procession down the Moor with Razzamataz Theatre School Sheffield, ending in the Moor Market with a marketplace full of providers and a number of special taster sessions. There was also a Moor Market quiz and lots of maypole dancing too! During the first three weeks of the hols, there were lots of FREE activities on offer from our fab Learning Destinations including Awesome Walls, Sheffield Hallam University, Greentop Circus, Arches Sports Partnership, Sheffield Star Mandarin School and Amanda Holland School of Dance
  • We held our very first Sheffield CU schools conference at Kelham Island Industrial Museum during the summer term. Developed in response to feedback from school staff, it was an inspiring full day session that aimed to support staff in the development and delivery of CU in schools. Helen O’Donnell joined us from the CU Trust to give the keynote speech and staff took part in a number of workshops and were able to visit a Learning Destination marketplace to get ideas to take back into school. Feedback was very positive and we hope to repeat our success in the summer of 2018 so watch this space!
  • Free CU LIVE! activities have been taking place during the holidays, with some fabulous activities from Imagination Gaming, Museums Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University Outreach team and The University of Sheffield Student Union volunteering to name but a few! CU LIVE! will be back next year, and will be coming to a venue near you! This will kick off with a very special Sheffield Science Saturday delivered by our friends at Sheffield Volunteering and the student societies on 24th February 2018. More info will be available early in the new year.
  • We continue to work closely with the national CU Trust and met with CU colleagues from across the country back in November to discuss national developments. We were also very proud to see CEO of the CU Trust Helen O’Donnell deliver a fantastic TED talk as part of TEDxNantwich. The speech entitled ‘ Whose job is it to educate our children?’ really highlights the importance of encouraging and inspiring children to learn outside of the classroom. View it here:
  • And we are sure there will be lots more to celebrate in 2018! 
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 O, Sakina, Helen N and Molly

The Sheffield CU Team