Hundreds of school-age children in south west Hertfordshire have received honorary degrees as a reward for notching up hours of learning out of the classroom, thanks to an innovative programme being run locally by two further education colleges.

Over 600 children from schools in St Albans, Watford, Three Rivers and Dacorum took part in the South Hertfordshire Children’s University programme, run by West Herts College and Oaklands College.

The Children’s University is a nationwide scheme that encourages primary school students between the ages of 5 and 14 to learn outside school. Children earn stamps in their learning passports for taking part in accredited extra-curricular activities such as visits to museums or theatres, participating in sport, music or the arts and visiting places of interest. The number of hours spent is logged throughout the year, at the end of which children are invited to attend a graduation ceremony in their local area.

West Herts College Principal Gill Worgan said: “It has been delightful to witness the growth of Children’s University and to see so many promising young students in front of me who have achieved something special. The Children’s University is all about raising your aspirations, self-esteem and confidence and encouraging curiosity and a love of learning."

Emma Hawes from Bournehall Primary School was awarded the Gold Undergraduate Award. She said: “I’m really happy, I liked having my family there with me. Thank you for my certificate, I worked so hard for it!”

Hertfordshire LEP Skills and Employment manager Norman Jennings was invited to attend one of this year’s graduation ceremonies at West Herts College on 6th July.

He said: “This is a superb way to champion young people’s achievements and hopefully instil in them a life-long love of learning. I was delighted to witness this and I hope to see this scheme being rolled out across other parts of Hertfordshire.”

The LEP is now working with the colleges to secure corporate sponsorship for future Children’s University graduations, to give children the opportunity to interact with employers and be inspired to think about their future ambitions. Contact info@hertfordshirelep.co.uk to discuss how your company can get involved.

For more information about the scheme, visit the South Hertfordshire Children’s University website or contact Sue Hill: sue.hill@westherts.ac.uk.      

Hertfordshire LEP works closely with both colleges to improve the learning facilities available to its students. Projects undertaken include the building of a new Dacorum Campus at West Herts College which received £10m of Growth Deal funding, as well as the provision of new Welder Training facility at Oaklands College which received £85.5k of Growth Deal funding.