Hundreds of children aged five to 14 from schools across the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP) donned gowns and caps in a prestigious ‘graduation’ ceremony at University of Birmingham.

The celebration recognised students who have achieved their gold graduation award from the Children’s University – an innovative scheme which puts a focus on extracurricular activity and personal development outside of classroom.

To accomplish this, the children had to dedicate at least 100 hours to activities with themes as varied as arts and culture, languages, mental health, science and maths and sports.

Children’s University CEO Sonjia Peers said: “The programme is a really big opportunity for children to become well-rounded individuals. Beyond the classroom, there’s so much that children need to experience to prepare them for adult life.

Children’s University CEO Sonjia Peers.

“The opportunities that they get involved in as part of the programme enables that from an early age. It takes them on a journey for life.”

The impressive scope of the children’s achievements was celebrated during the graduation ceremony. First to graduate were students from ATLP secondaries Arthur Terry School and The Coleshill School.

Then, in the afternoon, children from some of the Partnership’s primary schools across Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, Tamworth and Lichfield took to the stage to receive badges and certificates.

Proud faces were a highlight of the day.

The primaries involved were Mere Green, Coton Green, William MacGregor, Curdworth, Slade, Greysbrooke and Two Gates.

Students, dressed smartly in gowns and mortarboards, were invited on stage to be congratulated by Richard Gill CBE, CEO of ATLP, before being handed their badge by Sonjia. Each child had the number of hours they had dedicated to the Children’s University programme read aloud to an audience of proud family and friends.

Naturally, with certificates in hand, they then headed outside after the ceremony to toss their caps in the air in celebration!

Sonjia said: “Events like this can be overwhelming but they really inspire students and show them what they are capable of and what they can aspire to achieve.

“In some of the events we are involved with, children and families who have never set foot in a university before experience something completely new and ultimately recognise that it is an environment for them too. It’s a wonderful experience for them.

“It’s so important for schools to embrace extracurricular learning – something which ATLP has really exemplified. When I was young, I didn’t have something like this, but I was lucky enough to participate in activities that gave me a broad spectrum of skills.

“Schools play the most critical part in bringing these enrichment activities to the children.”

Throughout the day, talented youngsters from the schools also provided entertainment.

Clarinet player Anna Lo (Arthur Terry), pianists Louis Li (Mere Green) and Jaskaran Sagoo (Mere Green) and singer Francesca Smail (Arthur Terry) all starred, and there were inspirational speeches about their Children’s University experiences from Olivia Blackmore (Coleshill) and Fran Williams (Coton Green).

William MacGregor’s Ella Rose – who previously starred on TV’s Britain’s Got Talent – brought the house down with a stunning magic show.

Magician Ella Rose wowed the audience with some incredible wizardry.

The aim now is for even more ATLP schools to participate in Children’s University each year.

This year’s huge presentation event was co-ordinated for ATLP by Natalie Harris, Head of School at Tamworth’s Dunstall Park Primary School which opens in September.

Ian Smith-Childs, Secondary Strategic Lead for ATLP, stressed the scheme’s importance in a speech to the children.

He said: “In education, what we aim for always is for you to have these magical moments and build up life skills. It’s really important you have these experiences as you go through your educational journey.

“You’ll remember today for the rest of your life.”

Family and friends hail the outstanding achievements of our gold graduates.

Speaking after the event, Richard Gill CBE, said: “This was another fantastic day that celebrated the huge efforts put in by so many ATLP students who took part in the Children’s University scheme.

“We are proud to have opened up this opportunity to so many students, giving them the chance to develop themselves outside the classroom.”

Main picture: The Children’s University gold graduates celebrate in style.