Port Augusta Scouts and Carlton School students have got their first taste of university life through the Children’s University Australia (CUA) program.
The program promotes learning that takes place outside of school hours, focusing on subject areas that can be studied at university.
Arriving in the Upper Spencer Gulf region for the first time this year, CUA aims to develop self-efficacy, confidence, aspirations and leadership skills for students aged between seven and 14.
The model also offers volunteering opportunities for people aged between 15 and 18.
CUA Regional Engagement Officer Tanya Scholz said the program has proven to have a positive effect on student attendance, punctuality and behaviour.
“It is particularly effective in enhancing academic achievement and increasing ambition for students from backgrounds where university is not a traditional pathway,” she said.
“CUA is child directed, in that each individual chooses to be involved and picks what they would like to participate in.
“Children are encouraged to explore and discover new ideas, concepts and experiences through learning destinations. Activities are fun, practical and voluntary.”
The program, led by the University of Adelaide, gives students a ‘Passport to Learning’, which they fill with the hours they accumulate through participation in learning activities.
Students can accumulate hours at public learning destinations, such as museums, art galleries, libraries and zoos.
Students are awarded with certificates at a formal graduation ceremony at the end of the school year, with graduation levels ranging from ‘Bronze’, for 30 hours accumulated, to ‘Doctorate’, for 1000 hours.
Carlton School Curriculum Coordinator Sharron Jones said the program has been a success, with most students already clocking up over 15 hours of activity.
“The Children’s University program is important to Carlton School students because it shows them a pathway from primary school to high school to university,” she said.
“It allows us to use our elective programs, which involves things like sewing, cooking, arts and a physical education program.”
Students have been able to earn up to 10 hours through their local sporting commitments.
Port Augusta Library and SolarReserve have plans to host school holiday programs that would enable students to generate more hours.
The award-winning model was founded in the United Kingdom and was first introduced in Adelaide in 2013. Seven schools in the Upper Spencer Gulf region signed up for the program in 2018.