QMU appoints new children’s champion

Hayley Jones. Picture: Tracey Largue
Hayley Jones. Picture: Tracey Largue
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A CITY university has appointed its first officer dedicated to its Children’s University project.

Queen Margaret University hopes the new post, taken up by Hayley Jones, will boost educational opportunities for youngsters across the east of Scotland.

QMU drama graduate Ms Jones, 29, from Tayport in Fife, has a wealth of experience in providing education projects for young people of all ages in Edinburgh.

She has previously worked with the Edinburgh International Science Festival and as a freelance drama practitioner.

The university is the first higher education institution in the east of Scotland to host the Children’s University, which aims to broaden the horizons of school children aged between seven and 14 years of age.

Participants are rewarded for taking part in a wide variety of learning activities outside of school hours, ranging from dancing and painting, to cheer-leading, modern languages and gardening.

Children build up credits the more they engage, and they can work towards bronze, silver and gold certificates.

QMU has taken the lead in establishing the Children’s University in the east of Scotland by working in partnership with schools via Midlothian and East Lothian councils.

Ms Jones said: “I’m very much looking forward to starting this role. I have a real passion for widening access to higher education and believe that the Children’s University project is a fantastic way to encourage and support young people to enrich their learning in their own time. Having read a few reports on this national project, there is strong evidence to suggest that taking part in extra curricular activities raises attainment within schools and the Children’s University is a fantastic project that promotes this. I look forward to working with local schools, businesses and the university staff to develop this already thriving project.”

Callum Maguire, head of outreach and community engagement at QMU and co-ordinator of the QMU Children’s University, said: “Queen Margaret University is fully committed to widening access and supporting learning in the community. Our involvement with the Children’s University allows us to help develop and provide opportunities for young people from wide-ranging backgrounds. Hayley’s appointment means we’ll be able to implement the scheme in many more of our local primary and secondary schools.”

More than 2500 pupils from across Midlothian and East Lothian have signed up to the Children’s University scheme since January 2014. Over 60 youngsters from across East Lothian graduated from the scheme in January 2015 and a further 54 pupils from across Midlothian graduated from the scheme at QMU in June 2015.