Belgian MPs visited schools in Gravesham and Dartford to find out about Kent Children’s University (KCU) as they investigate ways to inspire children through learning opportunities outside normal school hours.
A delegation of the Assembly of the Flemish Community Commission went to Westcourt Primary School in Gravesend and Temple Hill Primary Academy in Dartford on Thursday (October 5). They spoke to staff and pupils about the popular extra-curricular initiative, which encourages children to learn in fun ways when they aren’t in lessons.
Carla Dejonghe, chairwoman of the Assembly of the Flemish Community Commission and a former teacher, said: “It’s been lovely to find out about the activities the children do and how the Kent Children’s University scheme motivates them to do other things. It’s nice to hear they can take their KCU passports into museums and other places and get a reward for the activities they are doing.”
Bruno De Lille, chairman of the assembly’s education committee, added: “The way these schools manage these extra-curricular activities, and the way they put the children first, that is something we are trying to do too. There is much more variety of activities here than there is in Brussels. This has been an interesting exchange of ideas.”
Seven children from Westcourt Primary were chosen to speak to the visitors as the school already has a wealth of after school and holiday clubs and has just joined the Kent Children’s University scheme, which encourages the whole family to take part.
The pupils, from years 2 to 6, told the visitors they have the opportunity to take part in activities such as gymnastics, football, cheerleading, knitting, reading and Lego building in their after school and holiday clubs.
Mags Sexton, head teacher at Westcourt Primary, said: “As a school we felt extremely honoured to be chosen to be part of the Belgium visit and to be recognised as a good example of how children can be engaged in learning beyond the curriculum.
“We have decided to take part in Kent Children’s University as we want to provide opportunities and encouragement for the whole family to take part in learning. We believe that our children will benefit from having richer and more diverse learning opportunities whilst having great fun with their parents or carers.”
Roger Gough, cabinet member for education, said: “We are delighted the Assembly of the Flemish Community Commission selected Kent as an example of an authority that offers high quality extra-curricular provision.
“Kent Childen’s University is a fantastic way for children, and their familes, to gain knowledge in a fun way while exploring some of the fantastic locations and attractions within the county and beyond.
“We are grateful to the two schools for welcoming our visitors.”
The Assembly of the Flemish Community Commission in the Brussels-Capital Region is responsible for culture, education, welfare and health, and members often go on study visits to find out more about those areas.
The Flemish Community Commission’s Education Committee asked to visit Kent Children’s University following a suggestion by OCB (Onderwijscentrum Brussel), the centre of expertise for Dutch-speaking education and teaching in Brussels.
The delegation was keen to find out how the Children’s University operates in Kent as they may wish to establish a Brussels Children’s University in the future.
The group also visisted Maidstone Museum, Leeds Castle (both KCU Learning Destinations) and County Hall.
Kent Children’s University is part of the Skills and Employability service at Kent County Council. The scheme sees five to 14-year-olds, and their families, getting involved in exciting activities outside normal school hours.
An organisation can register to become a Learning Destination, meaning it can ‘quality assure’ its provision with Children’s University so it can issue Learning Credits to children who visit the destination or take part in an activity while visiting.
Each visit to a quality assured destination or activity will see children earn credits in their Passport to Learning. Upon reaching national Learning Credit milestones, children and their families are invited to special graduation ceremonies at one of the three universities in Kent.
For more information on Kent Children’s University, please visit www.kentchildrensuniversity.co.uk