Graduation-style ceremony for Sunderland children who go the extra mile

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CHILDREN as young as five have been celebrating their efforts to go the extra mile during a special awards ceremony at the University of Sunderland.

Nearly 80 students from Academy 360, in Sunderland, received gold, silver and bronze awards for their achievements at the University of Sunderland’s Cityspace building.

The ceremony showcased the Sunderland’s Children’s University, which is a joint initiative between the university and the Pennywell-based school.

Academy 360 students, aged from five to 16, have been participating in sports such as curling, netball, and rugby as well as dance and science activities.

The awards recognise extra-curricular activities outside of school hours, and certificates were given to students depending on how many hours they completed.

The Children’s University aims to raise aspirations, encourage young people to aim higher and ease the transition into higher education.

Katharine Reed, student recruitment co-ordinator at the Wearside university and organiser of the event, said: “We were delighted to host this special event. It can make all the difference in raising aspirations and show what is available for them on their doorstep. We hope this could be the first visit on campus for the students and inspire them to return and study at the university in years to come.”

Aleisha Robinson, aged seven, was the only student who won the gold award with a distinction, and got to wear cap and gown, after she acquired 162 hours of extra-curricular activities. She did this through many activities including karate, dancing and performing magic.

The youngster said: “I loved it, it was great and I want to keep getting involved in different activities outside of school time. I feel really proud earning the certificate.”

Former University of Sunderland lecturer and popular television presenter on Braniac, Professor John Kilcoyne, was also given an honorary degree at the ceremony.

He was recognised for his outstanding work in educating young people in science. He has already given lectures to more than 9,000 young people this year.

Prof Kilcoyne said: “It is a great honour and a privilege for me to be involved with an event such as this. We need to do all we can to encourage children to aspire to study and in particular to study science to as high a level as they can. The Children’s University is an excellent way of doing just that.”

David Amos, Academy 360 associate headteacher, said: “The relationship with the University is absolutely vital in raising aspirations for the students and every member of staff is keen to help students see that there are far greater opportunities after leaving school than they could ever imagine.”

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