The junior scholars were dressed head to toe in traditional gowns and mortar boards. Family, friends, teachers and supporters were welcomed to the ceremony to help celebrate the children’s achievements.
The East Lothian schools that took part in the Queen Margaret Children’s University graduation were Pencaitland Primary, Yester Primary, Ross High School, Sanderson’s Wynd Primary and Stoneyhill Primary.
QMU is the first higher education institution in the east of Scotland to host the Children’s University, which aims to help school children, aged between seven and 14 years of age (and five and six year olds with their families), become confident learners and broaden their horizons.
The initiative strives to raise children’s aspirations, encourages them to learn in different ways, and rewards them for taking part in a wide variety of learning activities outside of school hours. The Children’s University ethos is clearly aligned with the aims of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence in terms of helping children become successful and confident learners, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
QMU has taken the lead in establishing the Children’s University in the east of Scotland by initially working in partnership with schools via East and Midlothian Councils.
The children build up credits the more they engage in learning activities. They can also work towards bronze, silver and gold certificates. The more the children engage in learning activities, the more credits they build up.
Over 1,400 pupils from across East Lothian and Midlothian signed up to the Queen Margaret Children’s University scheme in 2014. One hundred of these pupils have already achieved a minimum 30 hours of learning activities outside of school hours, including dancing, painting, cheer-leading, modern languages and gardening. Each child was presented with a special certificate at the Queen Margaret Children’s University graduation ceremony.
The ceremony was attended by Fiona McLeod – Acting Minister for Children and Young People; Mary De la Peña MBE, Chief Executive of Children’s University Scotland; Professor Petra Wend, Principal of QMU; Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal of QMU and Callum Maguire, Head of Outreach & Community Engagement at QMU and Coordinator of the Queen Margaret Children’s University.
Callum Maguire, Head of Outreach & Community Engagement at QMU and Coordinator of the Queen Margaret Children’s University, said: “After nine months of hard work, we’re really excited to have now staged the first QMU Children’s University graduation ceremony and celebrated the pupils’ achievements. This valuable initiative is already helping to encourage young children across East Lothian and Midlothian to get involved in different methods of learning, whilst boosting their achievement.
“We’ve always believed that children need a range of different opportunities and that not all learning needs to be school focused. The Children’s University offers a different approach and encourages children to foster a love of learning. It also creates a unique way of recognising and rewarding individuals for learning and getting involved in new things. It’s an inspirational way of engaging with the younger members of our communities and will hopefully motivate them to continue being active learners as they move through their teenage years.”