“We are one of the most active schools in the city of Liverpool and are well known locally and beyond for our wide range of extra-curricular activity. The children really appreciate it and it really helps to broaden their horizons and build their self-confidence,” commented David Williams.
In Speke, overall levels of deprivation are amongst the lowest in the country, falling within the bottom two per cent. Raising aspirations and widening horizons have been a high priority at the school for many years. In 2000, the school became part of the Education Action Zone and CU was introduced with the aid of some funding. The original Education Action Zone was set up based on government research into identifying the most deprived communities in the country. The schools research has led them to constantly seek to provide access for their children to the wider world, beyond Speke, which many of the children would not otherwise see. Although the initial funding has long since dried up, those early seeds have now blossomed and CU is a major part of school life.
Having originally aimed to inspire children and widen their horizons, the project has proven to be a massive success. Children are delighted with their achievements through CU and have developed a wide rang of interests. Academic success and attendance has improved year on year and there have also been improvements in children’s attitude and behaviour.
David added: “Aspirations have been raised overall and children have much wider horizons. Success of teams and individuals in sport has given a feeling of confidence. In the arts, we recently received a special plaque from the Arts Council for England for gaining their prestigious Gold Award three times in a row.”
The children are able to take away their ‘CU Passports’ which can be kept and added to during their high school years. It is hoped that these will then be added to CVs when they come to apply for higher education or employment.
The Children’s University involved all members of the teaching staff (20) plus a number of learning support assistants, volunteers and mentors. Although some performances and residential visits took up some school time, the CU was completed predominantly outside of school hours.