Growing up North: How can we inspire our children to have pride in the places they live?

HEY CU is extremely proud to have contributed to the recently published Children’s Commissioner’s report, “Growing up North”. Our Director, Natasha Banke, was invited to create a blog about a topic that HEY CU is passionate about : How can we inspire children to have pride in the places they live?

How can we inspire our children to have pride in the places they live? Children must understand the history of where they are from, they need to learn about the positive role models and ambassadors from their city and finally they need to understand what educational and career opportunities there are in the cities they live in.

Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University (HEY CU) is a charity that works with schools regionally in areas of disadvantage. Children are provided with opportunities outside the classroom that make the learning that goes on at school real and relevant to their futures. HEY CU inspires children to go on to careers and educational pathways they never knew existed, and we instil the confidence to do so in them. Giving children aspiration, confidence, curiosity about the world around them and resilience is the cornerstone of the charity’s work.

HEY CU was pleased to work in partnership with Anne Longfield the Children’s Commissioner and her team to help explore the issues affecting education in Hull and East Yorkshire. Together we visited a school who had taken part in our HEY CU Ambassadors Experience as well as other HEY CU workplace Experiences. The children visited the city centre to learn about what it means to be a good ambassador for your city and school. They interviewed members of the public (with adult help) and learned about what people love about their city. The children do some research on ambassadors and then do a trail of the city using a map to find the statues of seven ambassadors from Hull. We ask the children what they know about Hull before and after the experience. The difference in children’s attitudes towards their city changes dramatically once they know and understand what a brilliant place it is to live and how many inspiring people come from Hull. 86.4% of pupils who took part in the Ambassadors Experience in 2017 said the Experience made them feel proud of their city. The Ambassadors Experience is followed up with visits to workplaces of key employers in Hull, for example, Smith & Nephew, ARCO, P&O Ferries and Associated British Ports, the Centre for Digital Innovation, GGP, British Aerospace. It’s important for children to see first-hand the jobs that they can aspire to do locally. We also facilitate visits to educational institutions to show children the variety of educational pathways that are available to them such as the UTC in Hull and the University of Hull. It is important to inspire and educate children as early in life as possible so that they can know what opportunities are available. Children can only aspire to what they know exists.

Over 5000 children a year plus 203 living in foster care take part in HEY CU experiences every year. We see the significant impact these experiences make in children’s lives. The future is as bright as our young people are and we can’t wait to see what they become in the future.

The main findings in the Growing up North report can be found here.

You can read the full Growing up North report here.