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York Children's University to bring learning to life

Posted on 4 March 2011

York's business community will hear how they can help inspire young children to learn at the launch of York Children’s University.

York Children’s University will build on the work of York Cares Kids College which since 2009 has helped bring learning to life for hundreds of children through activities such as announcing trains at Harrogate Station, “Come Dine with Me” events and dissecting fast food meals.

York student volunteers will play a key part in the success of York Children’s University, inspiring children with learning opportunities which spark their imagination and allow them to follow their interests

David Duncan

Led by employee-volunteering charity York Cares, York Children’s University brings together York employers, the University of York, schools and - most importantly - the children and families they serve. It will support children aged seven to 14, particularly those from disadvantaged areas, to learn through extra-curricular and out-of-hours activities delivered by employee and university student volunteers. 

At the formal launch on March 7 at Aviva in Wellington Row, John Lister, Finance Director for Aviva Life Business UK and Chairman of York Cares, will call upon more of York’s business community to get involved.

He said: “York Children’s University will build on the work of previous years during which over 400 children have taken part in themed activities. Through the goodwill of our employers, children have had chance to taste new food with executive chefs, visit the law courts, see how a newspaper goes to print and visit the bank vaults.

“Now we are calling upon more employers to work with us to expand the activities on offer into new areas such as retail, technology, construction and leisure. In the age of the Big Society, York Children’s University provides businesses with an excellent opportunity to play an active part in their communities and support the younger generation.”

The Children’s University is a national scheme which celebrates the achievements of children through a certificated programme and graduations. Each child receives a Children’s University passport to record their learning hours which count towards an award.

Speakers at the launch include Ger Graus, Chief Executive of the National Children’s University, Pete Dwyer, Director of Adults, Children and Education for City of York Council, and Lesley Barringer, Head teacher at Osbaldwick Primary School.

Lesley Barringer said: “By interacting with people from business, our children get a window into possible futures and can see how their classroom learning relates to the world of work.”

Many of York’s key cultural and out-of-school providers, including York Arts Academy, the National Centre for Early Music, York Museums Trust, York Theatre Royal, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and the North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership, have already pledged support for the new Children’s University and will provide activities in areas such as heritage, arts and the environment.

University of York student volunteers will continue to play a pivotal role running five-week modules in different themed areas such as the Science of Food, Money, the Media, Law and Justice, and Tracks and Trains. They will work closely with employees from businesses such as Aviva, FERA, Northern Rail, Network Rail, York Marriot, York Press and North Yorkshire Police.

David Duncan, University of York Registrar, said: “Every year over a thousand of our students donate their time and skills to volunteering in the local community through a host of different schemes. York student volunteers will play a key part in the success of York Children’s University, inspiring children with learning opportunities which spark their imagination and allow them to follow their interests.”

Notes to editors:

  • The Children’s University is a national UK-wide organisation which focuses on rewarding participation, raising aspirations and encouraging engagement with learning. For further information visit
  • York Cares is an independent charity, founded by the University of York, Aviva, City of York Council and local employers in 2005, which runs an employee volunteering programme. It established York Cares Kids College in 2009 as a pilot to test the feasibility of joining the National Children’s University programme. More information at

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029

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