Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Plan your February fun - Passport activity newsletter now available!

The February half term is finally upon us! Are you looking for some fun activities to take part in? Look no further! The Sheffield Children's University Passport to Learning newsletter which includes details of activities happening across the city during the half term hols is now available!

It’s packed full of fun activities happening during the February holidays – from the teddy bear hospital and arts and crafts, to sports and STEM camps and activities focused on national birds next week at Sheffield Manor Lodge! There are also links to our very own Sheffield CU home learning challenges too.

Start planning your February fun now! https://bit.ly/SCUPassportActivityNewsletterFeb2022

Monday, 13 December 2021

Celebrating 2021

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

2021 has certainly been another extraordinary year! It’s been full of highs and lows but as we reflect back, one thing that has remained constant is the outstanding commitment to learning shown by children and their families, by schools, by Learning Destinations and by our partners.

Time after time we have witnessed school staff, parents/carers, activity providers and colleagues going above and beyond to ensure they could continue to deliver as many learning opportunities as possible for the children and young people in their care. They have continually demonstrated their dedication, creativity and kindness, and we are so proud to work alongside them. And time and time again we have been truly amazed by the resilience and positivity of the amazing children and young people of our city who have continued to learn and achieve, despite the challenges they have faced.

They have certainly inspired us to keep driving forward and we feel really proud to have been able to continue to provide what support we could as well as growing Sheffield CU this year too. We look forward to 2022 and hopefully celebrating the commitment and achievements of our amazing CU members at one of our real life award ceremonies as soon as possible!

In the meantime, here’s our Sheffield CU year in numbers…

  • 44,892 children and young people with CU credits in Sheffield
  • 3,482,403 CU credits awarded so far
  • Over 90,000 hours added in 2021, including over 20,000 hours spent developing creative problem solving skills, over 30,000 hours spend developing communication skills, over 21,000 hours spend developing self-management skills and 19,000 hours spent developing collaboration and interpersonal skills.
  • Over 500 out of school activities registered with us in 2021 (and counting!)
  • 60 schools signed up and engaged with Sheffield Children’s University, including 2 new ones!
  • 242 Learning Destinations (approved activity providers) participating across Sheffield. 21 brand new Learning Destinations have been added in 2021 including brownies and scouts groups, Amazelab, Sparkle Sheffield, Steel City Sports, Makers Future, Sheffield Music Academy, Sheffield United Cricket Club and many more!
  • 700 Gold awards, 850 Silver & 1,302 Bronze awards have been issued during 2021. There have been an amazing 96,000 CU Awards issued since 2008 proving just how talented and committed Sheffield children, young people and families are to their out of school learning!
  • 70 FREE activities were delivered by 15 Learning Destinations across 6 weeks of summer as part of the 7th annual Sheffield CU Festival of Fun. 11 of these activities were tailored for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • 5 virtual ceremony experiences were rolled out to our award winners who couldn’t attend real life ceremonies due to COVID restrictions. Children and young people were invited to take part in special celebratory home learning challenge and watch a Sheffield CU virtual ceremony video full of special speeches and performances. Schools were offered loans of our university style caps and gowns to support in school celebrations and our individual passport award winners received a special book of activity vouchers from our Learning Destinations
  • 35 Essential Life Skills challenges and 15 school holiday themed home learning activities were created and published by the team to support children, young people, families and schools during this extraordinary time, as well as 6 passport activity newsletters crammed full of activities delivered across the city by our Learning Destinations
  • 40 schools taking part in our 2021 South Yorkshire CU Medicine and Healthcare Project in a Box to help inspire our children and young people to become medics of the future! 25 schools in Sheffield are joined by 15 more from across Rotherham and Doncaster for the first time, delivering activities developed and supported by University of Sheffield students.
  • 6 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 an attention autism club, a samba club, a mighty minds club, a cooking club, a gardening club and an imagination gaming club
  • 1 parent/carer survey was rolled out for the first time inviting families to tell us what they think about the service we offer so we can continue to ensure we are doing all we can to meet the needs of children, young people and families in our city. We asked them what they thought about our award ceremonies, why they thought it was important for schools to be part of CU and what difference CU had on their child as well as lots of other things too! There were lots of positive outcomes, some of which you can find here: https://bit.ly/SCUParentCarerSurvey
  • Over 100 participating CU schools across South Yorkshire, all supported by South Yorkshire CU, led by Katie and Helen through Sheffield Hallam University. This work aims to develop a brand new regional CU partnership to create even more opportunities for the children, families, schools and activity providers of South Yorkshire. Watch this space for more developments in 2022!
  • 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 continuing to support our work and ensuring the children and young people of our wonderful city are celebrated and rewarded for their achievements, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

We really 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 and Laura
The Sheffield CU Team

Friday, 10 December 2021

Plan your christmas fun with our winter CU Passport Activity Newsletter!

The Sheffield Children's University Christmas Passport to Learning newsletter is now available! It includes details of activities happening across Sheffield during the Christmas holidays, so plenty to keep you busy.
It’s packed with fun activities happening during the Christmas holidays – from STEM holiday clubs and Christmas crafts in the libraries, to football camps and the Brearley Bear Christmas trail in the city centre! There are also links to our very own Sheffield CU home learning challenges as well as an up to date list of all our Sheffield Learning Destinations.

You find a copy of the newsletter here: https://bit.ly/SCUPassportActivityNewsletterChristmas2021

Friday, 8 October 2021

Spooktacular Fun in our Passport Activity Newsletter!

Plan your holiday fun with our Passport Activity Newsletter...

The October half term holiday is fast approaching, but there's no reason to be scared... (unless you're joining in Halloween activities?!)

We're here to help with ideas and activities to keep you and your family entertained - our October edition of the Sheffield CU Passport Activity Newsletter!

It's full of activities being delivered by our fabulous Learning Destinations, as well as links to all our previous Home Learning Challenges so if you fancy completing some activities at home, why not take a look?

You can download the newsletter here: https://bit.ly/SCUPassportActivityNewsletterOctober2021

All the activities will earn CU credits if you have a CU Passport to Learning. Not got yours yet? Don't worry - if you attend a Sheffield school (or are a subscribing member of our Home Education programme), you can buy a Passport from some Sheffield libraries (give them a call to check their stock before making a special journey!) or direct from us: https://bit.ly/SCUOrderPassporttoLearning and we'll post it to your home address ASAP.

All the info you'll need on how to claim your credits can be found in the newsletter, alongside a FULL list of ALL our Learning Destinations!

Have a brilliant half term break!

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Developing Essential Skills - for EVERYONE at Sheffield Children's University

At Sheffield Children's University, we've been thinking (and talking) a lot about life skills recently, and how important they are. We need these skills to adapt to all kinds of situations in life - not just at school, college, university or work but in life more generally. You might have already seen that we are now tracking how children and young people develop a series of 8 essential life skills through their participation in CU activities. We've been working with an organisation called SkillsBuilder who (with partners) have identified 8 key skills:

Over time, you (and your child) will be able to see how their skills are developing - which ones they are becoming masters at, as well as the ones that might need a little more work - through the reports attached to their awards. We'll also be able to see at a glance, which skills are being developed the most and the least across Sheffield as a whole. This information will help us and our partners to develop activities and events to help meet any gaps, ensuring Sheffield's children, young people and families are developing the skills they need to be the best they can be.

Developing skills in our team

Here at Sheffield CU, we've always believed that helping people to develop their skills is REALLY important. That's why we've always had Apprentices in our team. An apprenticeship is a job which includes lots of training and is a great way to develop all your essential life skills as well as experience of work all at the same time. Quite simply, we COULD NOT run Sheffield Children's University without our Apprentices and so we thought it was time you heard how our Apprentices have developed their skills as part of our team...and how this continues to the present day. 

So, first, here's Sakina to tell you a little more...

'I started with the Sheffield CU Team back in August 2012. I saw the advert online for the role which was an Apprentice learning all about Business Support. When I first joined the team, I was very overwhelmed. I couldn't believe that such a small team could do so much but I was also amazed that an initiative like this was available to everyone in Sheffield.'

'When I first started, my role was very much around traditional 'Business Support' tasks. That's the things that are done 'behind the scenes' to ensure everything works. Since 2012 though, my role has changed dramatically. In the early days, my role was very much data inputting (that's adding all the registers and the CU credits) and certificate production. Now, 9 years later, I mentor the Apprentices in our team. I'm in a good position to be able to do this as I know how they're feeling. I've been there and can help them overcome challenges as well as develop their new skills.' 

And that she does! Sakina is an AMAZING mentor both to Apprentices in our team and to other Business Support Apprentices working in other teams.

'Now I have more experience and skills myself, I am part of the bigger conversation around the projects that CU runs. I also lead on the planning, preparation, and organisation of all the Gold award ceremonies. When I look back, I can see how important my work was in those early days, making sure all the children received their awards. But now I coordinate it all, from the ceremony venues, to making sure we have all the caps and gowns we need as well as making sure we have all the children's awards ready in time.' And that's no small task Sakina!

Sakina adds 'I think over the 9 years I’ve been with CU, I have developed all 8 of the life skills we continually talk about, to different degrees. For example, my Problem Solving skills have developed loads over the last 18 months – the biggest problem I think we have solved is being able to continue to offer CU during a global pandemic. Facing other problems before this now seems minor. Trying to work out the logistics of ceremonies and certificates but then trying to do them from home in a completely different setting was challenging, but a key thing with problem solving is about working together with others which we do really well in the CU Team. We identified what we wanted to achieve (children receiving awards) then worked backwards and put in all the steps we needed to, to solve the new challenges brought by lockdown.' 

But we're always talking about learning being a lifelong journey here in the Sheffield CU Team and Sakina agrees; 'I'm still developing skills - we all are - which is why working in the Sheffield CU Team is so good. It's so varied and there's always a new opportunity to get involved with - somewhere I can gain more experience and develop more skills.’

‘Take Leadership for example – this is one of the skills that I’m still really developing but have come so far with during my time at CU. When I started as an Apprentice I didn’t make any important decisions really, and I very much followed the path that had already been laid by my team. Now I take more of a lead in decision making, like managing the CU Festival of Fun for the first time this year. I was responsible for planning and arranging all the activities and making sure they would be delivered in some really good venues that were easy for people to get to. I had to liaise with all the Learning Destinations and make sure the programme was pulled together accurately and on time. But at the same time, I also needed to make sure everything was within our small budget. I was making decisions about thousands of pounds of money which was scary at first but I knew the team had confidence and faith in me to use my Leadership skills effectively. I've really enjoyed it and learned so much too.' Sakina’s done a fantastic job with the CU Festival of Fun this year - we're sure you'll agree!

But Sakina already knows which skills she'd like to focus on next...

'Speaking – that's one that I’m still working on but it’s something I do more of now, speaking in front of an audience. This is something I continue to struggle with, however it’s a huge part of my role within CU now, from speaking in smaller groups at our school network meetings to speaking to the whole audience at award ceremonies. I thoroughly enjoy being able to share and promote the great work our partners and children and young people have been doing but speaking about them to an audience still makes me nervous.'

'Developing skills is part of my everyday work and it's so important. That, as well as learning to work with others - Teamwork – that's the one skill that makes every bit of difference. Teamwork is something I really feel I’ve developed the most but have no doubt it’s the one that will continue to develop the most too. Being part of a team can sometimes be a little daunting if I’m honest, especially when you’re new or someone new joins your team but over time it’s the thing that I have learned to value the most. I now understand and appreciate that I have had these opportunities and the amazing experiences because my team have encouraged and supported me through everything.'

And Sakina has this message for all our CU members and their families...

'Working within CU has been an eye-opening experience. Following all your journeys to see how much resilience and determination you’ve all got is inspiring and is something that I learn from every day. It’s with thanks to the children, young people and their families that make my job as enjoyable as it is. For that I owe huge thanks to them, for making each day different. It’s crazy to think what I was like 9 years ago to what I am now. I just hope the next however many years are as fun, enjoyable and educational as these past nine years have been😊.'


Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Sheffield CU Inspirational Stories

We know this year been really challenging for our children, young people and families in LOTS of different ways. Despite this, we are pleased to announce that we have awarded over 3,500 Bronze level awards, 2,800 Silver level awards and 2,500 Gold level awards to our fantastic Sheffield children and young people during the pandemic as well as awarding many more CU credits in between! We are SO impressed with the continued commitment to voluntary learning, whether that be home learning challenges, zoom gymnastics in the garden, virtual scouts groups, at school based activities or with our fab Learning Destinations now they are back up and running. As always, we are SO proud of all our wonderful CU members and their resilience during the past 18 months.

Another person who knows all about overcoming barriers to succeed is 19 year old Yorkshire born Jodie Ounsley who is the first deaf female rugby player to be selected for an international squad and represent England at Rugby Sevens, scoring her maiden try on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stage in Cape Town. Profoundly deaf from birth, as a child she soon developed a determined mindset and the resilience to overcome barriers. Her positive view on life has led to lots of successes on her journey to becoming an international professional athlete. Whilst some would say her hearing was a disability, Jodie views it as a strength that has given her the opportunity to connect and reach out to children and young people to inspire the next generation.

We hope to bring you more from Jodie as we celebrate the Rugby League World Cup, which due to the arrive in Sheffield this Autumn, but in the meantime, Jodie has recorded a special video to congratulate our CU members on all their efforts and to share her inspirational story too! It is definitely worth a watch to click here to view: https://youtu.be/_4labtzW3LM or the link below and please share with your children and young people too!

Monday, 12 July 2021

Your summer sorted!

The summer holidays are almost upon us (cheers from the children, worried faces on parents!), but we're pleased to be able to bring you our CU Passport Activity Newsletter - The CU Festival of Fun PLUS! which is full of activities, events and ideas to keep your children, young people and families occupied over the summer.

There are holiday camps and clubs, sports, the Summer Reading Challenge, discovering wildlife and nature, dance and drama, arts and crafts, music and circus skills. There are also some activities being run especially for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Why not take a look?

All activities will earn CU credits if children have a CU Passport to Learning, which will all go towards their CU awards. Some activities are charged for while others are free. And don't forget, there is the CU Festival of Fun happening right across the summer as well as the Bears of Sheffield Trail - phew! Download them here:

CU Festival of Fun: https://bit.ly/CUFestivalofFun2021

Bears of Sheffield activities: https://bit.ly/SCUBearsofSheffield2021

Don't worry if you attend a Sheffield school and haven't yet got a CU Passport to Learning. You can buy one online from us (£4.50 inc. postage to your home address) using this link: https://bit.ly/SCUOrderPassporttoLearning

So, have a flick through the newsletter which can be downloaded from https://bit.ly/SCUSummerPassportNewsletter2021

Have wonderful summer break!