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York Children's University broadens pupils' horizons

Posted on 21 June 2012

University of York student volunteers are bringing learning to life for local primary schoolchildren through a series of innovative, interactive workshops in partnership with York businesses.

This month, children from Carr Junior, Haxby Road Primary, Westfield Primary School and Osbaldwick Primary School have been working with University students on York Children’s University modules themed around advertising, chocolate, law and justice, and transport.

I have found the project very rewarding as it is great to see that the children are really enjoying the tasks we set

Laura Belshaw, Sociology and Education Studies student

The aim is to increase children’s motivation, build self-esteem and broaden their horizons.

Working with Aviva, North Yorkshire Police, Northern Rail and CHOCOLATE: York’s Sweet Story, the modules include activities such as filming adverts, taking a trip on a train and visiting the University of York’s Moot Court room.

Led by employee-volunteering charity York Cares, York Children’s University brings together York employers, the University of York, schools, and the children and families they serve. It supports 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. 

The four York Children’s University modules have been delivered by student volunteers taking part in the University of York’s Summer Term Challenge 2012. Four groups of six students have each delivered five two-hour workshops.

Over 160 undergraduate students from the Departments of Education and English and Related Literature are taking part in the Summer Term Challenge 2012, working on 19 different projects with local heritage, cultural and education organisations. As well as demonstrating their commitment to the local community, the scheme is helping student volunteers gain valuable work experience to enhance their future career prospects.

On Monday, 25 June, a group of 30 Year 5 and 6 pupils from Westfield Primary School will be visiting CHOCOLATE: York’s Sweet Story, the culmination of their work on chocolate – its history, how it is made and York’s part in the confectionary story.

Laura Belshaw, 19, who is studying Sociology and Education Studies at the University of York, is one of the six student volunteers who developed this new module.

She said: “I have found the project very rewarding as it is great to see that the children are really enjoying the tasks we set; it is brilliant to see how enthusiastic they are towards learning about the history of chocolate and its journey to York.”

Teacher Rachel Stuart from Westfield Primary School added: “The children have been very enthusiastic about this project. They have developed an even greater appreciation of chocolate, especially learning about where it comes from and how it is made. I would definitely recommend this project and the visit to others.”

Summer Term Challenge 2012 is run in partnership with the University of York’s Careers Service, with small teams of students taking on challenges such as collecting oral accounts for the York 800 celebrations and running events for the York Festival of Ideas. Students are also creating resources for charities including the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society.

Kate Harper, Acting Manager of the University’s Community and Volunteering Unit, said: “Summer Term Challenge 2012 is about helping students to develop their skills, enhance their employability and gain valuable experience in the sectors that are of particular interest to them, most notably the heritage and cultural industries and the education sector.

“Projects such as developing modules for York Children’s University are designed to relate to students’ academic work, enhancing their classroom experience while building up their portfolio of practical skills.”

The Summer Term Challenge 2012 programme is building on the well-established Volunteering and Enrichment scheme in which all first year Education students take part.

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. York Cares runs York Children's University in partnership with employers, schools, the City of York Council and a range of 'learning destinations'. For more information visit
  • For more information on student volunteering at the University of York visit
  • For more information on the University of York’s Department of Education visit
  • For more information on the University of York’s Department of English and Related Literature visit

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029

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