Jump directly to main content Jump directly to menu

Benefits and Research

Benefits of Children’s University

There are many benefits to be gained from CU. Children and young people who take part in CU have said:

  • They feel they have grown in confidence and self-belief
  • They have enjoyed new experiences, in new places and want to keep exploring
  • They believe they have a broader range of essential skills
  • They feel empowered to make positive choices about their future
  • They see learning that is fun, aspirational and lifelong
  • They feel their eyes have been opened to a multiplicity of learning activities and opportunities
  • They feel celebrated for their commitment to learning by their family, school and community.

What the research shows

There have been several evaluations and reports published on CU which can be found on the CU Trust website here. Common themes of a positive impact on areas including attainment, attendance, aspirations and engagement emerged in the latest evaluations conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation (2017), Sheffield Children’s University (2018) and Tiller Research Ltd (2018). Better outcomes were found for both primary and secondary pupils, key findings for primary aged CU children include:

  • Compared with non-CU members, CU members made an additional 2 months progress in reading and maths and more achieved the expected standard in their SATs, exceeding the national average across all levels
  • CU members made improvements in ‘teamwork’ and ‘social responsibility’ compared to non-members
  • Disadvantaged members performed significantly better than non-CU disadvantaged members
  • Increased levels of attendance, allowing more opportunity to succeed
  • Increased aspirations and a broader awareness of future options, CU members are more likely to choose professional occupations for their future
  • Improved essential life skills including self-confidence, resilience, communication, empathy and happiness
  • Increased awareness and perceived relevance of University

For secondary aged CU members:

  • More achieved grade 5 or higher in English and Maths, exceeding the national average and non-CU members

Disadvantaged members achieved significantly higher attainment 8 scores compared to non-CU disadvantaged member

Sheffield Children’s University – How does it make a difference? 2018-19 Report

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.

Read the Sheffield Children’s University 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.

You can read the report and download it in full 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

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 the report on the evaluation here

Evaluation by 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

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