Midlothian dad backs Queen Margaret Children’s University

Monday August 10th 2015

Robert Wilson Childrens University

Robert Wilson, a parent from Dalkeith in Midlothian, has become one of the Queen Margaret Children’s University’s most enthusiastic supporters.

Mr Wilson was keen to find out more about the Queen Margaret Children’s University after hearing about it at a parent council meeting.

Robert was eager for his six year old daughter, Hope, to get involved in the project. He felt there was a lack of activities on offer for younger children and that the Queen Margaret Children’s University could help to bridge that gap.

Robert explained: “I felt there wasn’t much in the way of organised activities for younger children and something slightly more structured was needed beyond initiatives like Brownies and Guides.  The Queen Margaret Children’s University seemed like the perfect solution – it  encourages different learning destinations to sign up as a learning partner and opens the door to children by encouraging them to experience a range of different activities that they otherwise might not know about.”

Robert felt that learning opportunities beyond the school gates were limited when he was a child. “It wasn’t until I was 14 that I got involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards,” said Robert, “but I wanted to encourage my daughter to try different things from a much younger age.”

Robert’s daughter, Hope, is in Primary two at Kingpark Primary in Dalkeith, and since joining the Queen Margaret Children’s University, she has immersed herself in all kinds of dance. He said: “She’s doing ballet, Irish dance, hip hop, and a host of other things, and she’s loving every minute of it.

“It’s important not to be pushy, but getting her involved in trying different activities will ultimately help with attainment at school as well as building her confidence.

“The Children’s University recognises children’s involvement in activities and gives them a sense of achievement from a young age. That can only be a positive thing.”

Robert is one of Queen Margaret Children’s University’s most passionate supporters. From an early stage in the initiative, he volunteered his time and worked hard to bring community projects, and high profile venues, on board. He is responsible for 125 learning destinations signing up as project partners – including Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. Of these 125 learning destinations, across Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian, 25 different activities such as judo, dance, football and games are now offered to pupils of the Queen Margaret Children’s University.

“Trying new activities and working towards goals, like putting on a dance show or working towards an award, is a great incentive to keep children learning”, said Robert.

The Children’s University focuses on children aged 7 – 14, but 5 and 6 year olds are welcomed if they have the support for families while undertaking their activities.

Robert strongly believes that parents and schools need to buy into the concept at the earliest age. He concluded: “Parental support is crucial and learning beyond classroom should be encouraged from the youngest age. We need to get more families and schools to get  five year olds involved so that children can develop as enthusiastic learners from a very young age. Learning as a family can only have positive outcome for our children.”

54 school pupils from four schools across Midlothian gathered at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, as part of the first Children’s University graduation ceremony for Midlothian schools, on Friday 26th June 2015.

The junior scholars were dressed head to toe in traditional gowns and mortar boards. Family, friends, teachers and supporters were welcomed to the ceremony to help celebrate the children’s achievements.

Newbattle Community High School, Danderhall Primary, Kings Park Primary, and Woodburn Primary were the first Midlothian schools to take part in the Queen Margaret Children’s University graduation ceremony.

Over 2,000 pupils from across Midlothian and East Lothian have signed up to the Queen Margaret Children’s University scheme since 2014. 60 school pupils from across East Lothian graduated from the first Children’s University graduation ceremony to be held in the east of Scotland in January 2015.

There are now over 400 accredited learning destinations across Midlothian and East Lothian, including Butterfly & Insect World in Lasswade and the Scottish National Mining Museum in Newtongrange. 1,200 learning activities include everything from dancing, and painting, to cheer-leading, modern languages and gardening.

A new film about the Queen Margaret Children’s University, which features elements of the first graduation ceremony held in January this year, is now available to view online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr_bHaHTYKA

For more information on the Queen Margaret Children’s University and to sign up, contact Callum Maguire, Head of Outreach & Community Engagement at QMU and Coordinator of the Queen Margaret Children’s University on 0131 474 0000 or email CMaguire@qmu.ac.uk

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