By Press Office 20 June 2016

Youngsters from Queen Margaret Children’s University came face to face with a range of fascinating wildlife in QMU’s University Square on the 17th June.

The children, aged five to 14, who are part of QMU’s widening access learning initiative, benefitted from wildlife sessions on board ‘The Wild About Scotland’ Zoo Bus. The bespoke double decker bus, run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), offered an entertaining programme of wildlife education which aims to inspire young people and encourages them to appreciate and respect wildlife and the environment.

The ‘Wild about Scotland’ bus is on a mission to travel the length and breadth of the country engaging children and communities with Scotland's amazing native wildlife. The Queen Margaret Children’s University, which is the only Children’s University in the East of Scotland, was delighted to host the Zoo bus at its campus in Musselburgh, and grateful for the opportunity to inspire children to connect with nature on their own doorstep.

Queen Margaret Children’s University aims to help school children, aged between seven and 14 years of age (and five and six year olds with their families), become confident learners and broaden their horizons. The initiative strives to raise children’s aspirations, encourages them to learn in different ways, and rewards them for taking part in a wide variety of learning activities outside of school hours. The children build up credits the more they engage in learning activities. They record their activities and their learning points in their ‘Passport to Learning’. They are also motivated to keep going with their learning activities by working towards bronze, silver and gold awards. Those who complete over 100 hours of learning activities are automatically invited to attend an impressive graduation ceremony at Queen Margaret University.

Hayley Jones, Children’s University Officer, explained: “Children learn more easily when they are having fun and the Zoo bus proved to be a big hit with these young people. One of the Children’s University programmes, which is proving really popular with the young people, is our ‘C U Friday’s’ which sees the children attend University for fun, interactive learning sessions led by QMU staff and students. These sessions are all free and therefore highly accessible for all Children’s University passport holders.

“We are really excited about our developing relationship with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and this first learning session with ‘Wild About Scotland’ Bus. The bus was a great way to engage young people and their families with wildlife and environmental issues. In partnership with the RZSS, we look forward to offering more inspiring and fun activities for Children’s University passport holders in the future.”

Professor Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal at Queen Margaret University, said: “Providing activities such as the Zoo Bus and the ‘C U Friday’s’ which take place on campus helps to encourage aspiration in our young people. Children can only aspire to what they know exists and by getting children over the door of a university and letting them experience learning in a different environment, is a great way to break down barriers. Children’s University is one of QMU’s most successful and ambitious widening access initiatives and is helping QMU in its mission of being a university without borders.”

Forty-four young people from East Lothian and Midlothian will attend the graduation ceremony of the Queen Margaret Children’s University on Saturday 18 th June. This will be the fourth graduation held at the QMU campus for this highly successful learning initiative. Young people from Danderhall, Elphinstone,, Sandersons Wynd, St Gabriels and Woodburn Primary schools will receive recognition for their learning out with school time. All of the children attending the ceremony will receive gold awards for achieving over 100 hours of learning credit.

Notes to Editor

The Queen Margaret Children’s University was initiated in 2014 with the first graduation ceremony taking place at Queen Margaret University in January 2015. The Queen Margaret Children’s University now has 3000 children from East Lothian and Mid Lothian signed up as passport holders. The learning initiative has ambitious plans for expansion over the coming years.

All the sessions were interactive and encouraged investigation and team working skills. They were especially designed to include Curriculum for Excellence links for Science, Social Studies, Technologies and Literacy. www.rzss.org.uk/wildaboutscotland

Twitter @rzss

For further media information contact Lynne Russell, Marketing Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk  T: 0131 474 0000, M: 07711 011239 and Jon Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: jperkins@qmu.ac.uk T: 0131 474 0000.

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Image Lynne Russell Communications Manager
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Image Jonathan Perkins Press and PR Officer
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