Universities launch South Yorkshire Children’s University partnership

The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University have launched a new partnership that will support the expansion of Children’s University in South Yorkshire.

Two children receive their degrees from Sheffield Children's University

The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University have launched a new partnership that will support the expansion of Children’s University in South Yorkshire, so that every child and young person in the region can be encouraged and rewarded for taking part in extra-curricular activities.

The two universities launched the partnership at a Children’s University graduation ceremony yesterday (Wednesday 30 November) at Sheffield City Hall.

Children’s University is a national initiative that celebrates participation in learning activities and opportunities outside school hours, encouraging children and young people from the age of five to try new learning experiences.

Culminating in an inspirational graduation ceremony, this learning adventure gives children and young people the opportunity to enrich their childhoods, nurture a lifelong love of learning, unlock their skills and talents and develop their aspirations and confidence, regardless of their backgrounds.

A photo showing South Yorkshire Children's University graduates tossing their hats in the air

Research shows the positive impact that participation in Children’s University and extra-curricular activity has on attainment. Research published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has shown that pupils taking part in Children’s University made two additional months progress in reading and math, compared to children in other schools. 

In 2019, funding from the SYMCA supported the expansion across South Yorkshire, based on the highly successful Sheffield Children’s University model. Subsequent funding from Sheffield Hallam has supported the continuation of this work to date.

Since this initial funding, a brand-new Children’s University has been set up in Rotherham in partnership with Rotherham School Improvement Service, while the existing and successful Children’s University in Doncaster, based in Doncaster College has been supported to develop further. Plans to establish a new Barnsley Children’s University are now also rapidly taking shape, completing the South Yorkshire picture.

As part of our commitment to the region, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield have now agreed joint funding of £120k to fund the continuation of South Yorkshire Children’s University for the next two years. The vision is to ensure every child in South Yorkshire has access to Children’s University in their area, so that they can reach their potential.

Professor Gill Valentine, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Sheffield, said: “Ever since the University of Sheffield was founded by penny donations in 1904, we have pledged to give back to communities in our city and region. Supporting our young people is a vital part of that, so we are delighted to be working alongside Sheffield Hallam University to ensure the South Yorkshire Children’s University can help young people from across South Yorkshire to enhance their learning and development from a young age.

We will always do what we can to make our region better for everyone, and through our Made Together programme, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that initiatives like South Yorkshire Children’s University can thrive.”

Children graduating from the South Yorkshire Children's University throw their hats in the air

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Improving life opportunities for all our young people, to enable them to realise their full potential, is a key part of what we do. This partnership shows how we are committed to this mission right across the entire education journey.

“Children’s University is a fantastic way of encouraging and rewarding children and young people for investing in their skills and experiences from a young age. I am delighted that the University has been able to join with the University of Sheffield to support the further development of South Yorkshire Children’s University in our communities across our region.”

Katie Hamshaw and Helen Oades, Project Managers, South Yorkshire Children’s University, said: “For the last 14 years, we’ve seen the real impact Children’s University can have on children, young people and their families in Sheffield. In 2018, we were thankful for the opportunity to be able to begin our journey in expanding this to the rest of South Yorkshire.

“And now, with the joint support and investment from the University of Sheffield, alongside Sheffield Hallam University, we’re incredibly excited to work towards completing our mission to bring the many benefits of Children’s University to children and young people right across our region.”


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