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The difference we make

Children who participate in Children’s University have the opportunity to learn in a rich range of contexts, experience new places, visit universities and attend their own graduation ceremonies. This adventure introduces children to the joy of learning, brings a sense of wonder in the world around them and develops their confidence and aspirations for the brightest futures. We know what we do works and has an incredible impact on the lives of children. It’s not just us saying this. 

Children’s University evaluations

Learning Beyond The Classroom: The State of the Nation 2023

Since 2021 Children's University has published an annual State of the Nation report, sharing insights into the state of learning beyond the classroom based on data from our digital platform, Children’s University Online (CUO). Everything we know from CUO is collated visually, alongside all we know about why learning beyond the classroom matters.

You can read more about our State of the Nation Reports and download them here

Nesta, University of Sussex and Skills Builder: The impact of Children’s University on the development of essential skills in children

In 2021 Children’s University published the results of a research project into the impact of Children’s University on the development of essential skills in children aged 11+. Funded by Nesta and supported by the University of Sussex, results from the project showed a direct link between participation in Children’s University and the use and improvement in essential skills development in line with the Skills Builder Framework. This is the first time that Children’s University can accurately illustrate and quantify the impact that our programme has on skills development.

You can read a research and results summary here

You can download the full report here

EEF - Children's University Evaluation

In 2017 the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) released an evaluation of Children's University. Like us, their fundamental mission is to ensure that the education of young people offers a level playing field that enables each and every child to aspire, attain, and succeed.

Designed to assess the efficacy of extracurricular activities in increasing attainment and providing important life skills and attitudes, the project’s positive feedback serves to reiterate our firmly held belief in the worth and importance of learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Results showed that children participating in Children’s University made 2 months additional progress in maths and reading at KS2. For those on Free School Meals this was 3 months.

You can download a summary and the full report on EEF’s website here

You can read more about a new EEF trial we are recruiting to here

UFA Young Researchers and Evaluators - Children's University Evaluation

In October 2017, Children’s University had the pleasure of being evaluated by a group of our participants as part of the University of the First Age’s Young Researchers and Evaluators programme. 

Utilising child-led, hands-on research, the evaluation was conducted by UFA's youngest ever researchers, providing them with invaluable research, analysis, and evaluation skills as well as acting as a vital opportunity for us to hear directly from our beneficiaries. 

Read and download our report on the evaluation here

The Cambridge Network

In 2012 an independent evaluation of the work of the Children’s University was undertaken by ‘Leadership for Learning – The Cambridge Network’ led by Professor John MacBeath of the University of Cambridge in partnership with Fischer Family Trust. This recognised that “Children's University pupils attend better by virtue of the activities which enhance their school experience … achieve better by virtue of renewed self-confidence in their own potential … enjoy learning more because they extend their repertoire of interests and see learning in a new light.”

You can read “Evaluating provision, progress and quality of learning in the Children’s University 2012” detailing the work undertaken by, and the findings of, Professor MacBeath here

Sheffield Children’s University – How does it make a difference?

Each year Sheffield Children’s University analyses the impact of Children’s University participation in Sheffield. This report provides an analysis of results in Sheffield comparing academic performance in Key Stage 2 SATS taken in year 6 at primary school, and Key Stage 4 GCSE’s taken in year 11 with participation in Children’s University activities. Year on year, results of this analysis have continually shown a clear link between participation in Children’s University and achievement and attendance at school.

You can read “Sheffield Children’s University – How does it make a difference?” here.

The University of Wolverhampton Children’s University

The University of Wolverhampton Children’s University - formerly known as ‘Black Country Children’s University (BCCU) – published an evaluation report in September 2018 by Tiller Research. Reporting on quantitative results alongside results gathered through discussion groups, the report highlighted the impact of Children’s University participation on children’s views of university, aspirations, attitude to learning and confidence and self-esteem. 

You can read the report in full here.


External reports

As well as our own evaluations, there are plenty of external reports that reinforce the importance of what we do and the impact of extra-curricular activities.

Social Mobility Commission - An Unequal Playing Field

In 2019, the Social Mobility commission published An unequal playing field: extra-curricular activities, soft skills and social mobility. It is a report that highlights disparities in children’s participation rates across a wide range of extra-curricular activities depending on their social background. It is full of information that completely reinforces and evidences why what we all do is so important. 

Read the report here

The Sutton Trust – Life Lessons: Improving essential life skills for young people

In October 2017 The Sutton Trust released a report by Carl Cullinane and Rebecca Montacute that highlighted the importance of extra-curricular activities for equipping children with the life skills they need. It stressed that giving young people from all backgrounds a greater opportunity to develop those skills can be an engine for opportunity and social mobility. This is what Children’s University aims to do.

Read the report summary and download the full report here.


NatCen – Out of school activities and the education gap

NatCen are Britain’s largest independent social research agency. Together with Newcastle University and with funding from The Nuffield Foundation, they published a number of reports investigating how out of school activities help children's learning. They investigated how involvement in different types of activities varies for 5 to 11 year olds from different backgrounds and what this means for their educational achievement.

You can read more about these reports and download them here.