Review of the most unusual year so far!

Our last Children’s University Graduation was held on 14th March 2020 at the University of Essex ahead of the first COVID lockdown.

It had everything that our Children’s University Graduations are famous for: joy; celebration; pride; inspiration and some family learning thrown in too.

It’s hard to believe, or maybe it isn’t, that we are now looking back at that anniversary, as it approaches, almost a year later.

As a Charity, the Trustees have a statutory responsibility to report to the Charities Commission and this will be submitted at the end of the month. The report focuses on our work from 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020.

Next year’s report will be an interesting read that’s for sure and with that in mind we wanted to share with you some of the the highlights of our most unusual year which began in March 2020.

Lynne Upton - Chair of Trustees and Debbie Bennett – Manager,

Essex Children’s University Trust (incorporating Suffolk Children’s University

March 2020

Children’s University Graduation at the University of Essex with family learning supported by Essex Book Festival – A Manifesto for Essex and our keynote speaker, author Genevieve Yusef, who presented the children with their awards.   Photographs of the celebration are on our website, behind this link.

It becomes increasingly clear that we will need to adapt our work to support schools, children and families and a plan is hatched.


The Children’s University office base closed and working from home becomes the new normal. It wouldn’t reopen until October and would close again in January 2021.

The Children’s University network rallies and home learning activities are shared across the network and a regular cascade to schools, parents signed up to our newsletters and social media campaigns begins. Our interaction with parents through social media platforms grows very quickly.


Traditionally Graduation season, we cancelled arrangements for 14 Children’s University Graduations across Essex and Suffolk.

ROH Bridge at Purfleet and the University of Suffolk offered their facilities as Graduation venues for when we are all able to get back together again.


With the support of Suffolk County Council, we created 560 Summer in a Box activity packs.  This collaborative partnership project distributed to those children working with key workers (KS2).





July and August












Our Children’s University Challenges continued to attract more and more learners and their families were delighted with the work and signposting which was happening.


Here’s some of what they have told us: 


“It was a really good session showing how design, process, pitching and marketing work.”


“They transformed her t-shirt design into a digital version and sent a picture.  She is beyond proud of her feedback.”  (Creative Briefs)

"Dyslexia has always been a barrier and I can't actually believe how much she wanted to write."

"He loved this session.  It really engaged his passion and he wants to do more" 

“He is really enjoying making things and it means me and him time as I have 3 children and he asks to do the crafts before chill time every night”

“It caused a lot of competitiveness in our house even between Mummy and Daddy! Kids loved this one - great challenge.” 

Where possible we share CU learner work with learning destinations setting some of the challenges.  Their comments on the work are shared with the children and bring a huge amount of pride for children and their grown ups too.


With the support of Essex2020 we launched our virtual Children’s University Club.  Resources were provided for all Schools (KS2) across Essex and Suffolk and this resulted in 1,000 new learners joining the Children’s University programme. You’ll find all the resources on this link.


We welcomed: Castle Hill School, Langer Academy, Deneholm Primary School, Westfield Primary Academy and Warren Primary School as Children’s University members.

I finally left my spare room and was made very welcome by the children and staff from Deneholm Primary and Westfield Primary Academy at bubble group assemblies and we moved into zoom assemblies for parents.


Delighted to have the opportunity to raise the profile of Children’s University with an article in Essex Living Magazine.

We continue to feature the work of our Children’s University learners, with appropriate permissions, in our online gallery. Interested in what they’ve been up to, you’ll find a selection of their work here.


With the support of ROH Bridge and The Craft Council we were able to provide Canvey Island Schools with 300 Let’s Craft boxes for distribution to children who would benefit most.  The boxes contained ideas and resources for activities to be completed at home. 

The activity booklet can be found here.

January 2021

Recruitment is well underway for 30 new schools to join an Endowment Education Foundation Research Study. If you know of colleague who would be interested in becoming involved in this funded Research Study they can find all the details here.  Happy for this update to be shared for an easy introduction to the work we do.

 A weekly Children’s University Challenge sheet is launched.  It has already proven a way to continue to engage children and their families in our learning activities  You’ll find copies of the challenges here.


….and finally!  The most enormous thank you for the continued support of the Children’s University in Essex and Suffolk.  We might be small but we, collectively, have great ambition for the children we are all working with.

Lorem initius...