City of Onkaparinga – A Learning Destination and Learning Hub

City of Onkaparinga became a Children’s University (CU) Adelaide Public Learning Destination in 2015, offering school holiday programs and after school activities at their libraries in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. Bridget Coulter (Team Leader) and Angela Berney (Library Coordinator) at Woodcroft Library took a lead in the organisation from the outset. Through them, CU validation training was delivered to staff at all Onkaparinga libraries enabling staff to create activities that could be immediately included as CU learning for members.

In 2016 a CU learning hub was piloted at Woodcroft Library. Bridget and Angela were aware that many of their activity attendees were either home schooled or did not attend a CU Adelaide member school. As the library offered a structure similar to that offered by schools, there was the necessary support structure to make CU a success. Careful guidelines were drawn up regarding CU Adelaide membership and initial membership numbers capped at 10. In that first year there were three graduating members. Membership has grown steadily since then and in 2019 there were 26 graduating students. In 2019, the pilot was extended to another Onkaparinga library at Aldinga, and four members graduated that year.

2019 Graduation – 26 graduates

In 2016 CU Adelaide commenced a lecture program delivered by University of Adelaide staff, students and academics at community buildings and libraries throughout the Adelaide metro and regional area during the school holidays. Since the beginning Woodcroft Library has also been a regular host for these events, including topics as varied as Animals Extreme, Amazing Astronomy and Japanese Culture.

‘For the past four years, I have been the Coordinator of Woodcroft Library’s Children’s University class. Our class differs from other Children’s University classes as the children are different ages and come from all different schools and backgrounds. Being part of Children’s University has enabled our students to have experiences that they otherwise would not have had. Over the years I have watched our students gain confidence and make new friends.  At last year’s graduation I was impressed when I saw an older student reassuring a younger student that everything was going to be okay! Of course, being a library and not a school comes with its own set of challenges, but Children’s University have been there every step of the way to offer advice and support.

Running this program through the library has had many benefits, students make new friends, become confident to try new things and build their range of life skills which are essential in our world today. Jobs of the future are ever evolving, and our children need to be ready! Attending a graduation ceremony also allows students to visualise a world outside of their environment opening doors that they may not have known existed.  

The library gets to build authentic relationships with students and parents, families keep coming back to library programs and the library engages with the hard to reach 12+ age group.’

Angela Berney, 2020

‘I just wanted to share with you some lovely feedback I received from a parent this week about her son taking part in the program. She said that he has always been a reluctant writer and last year it was a struggle to get him to do any writing, even though he attends the Dara School.

The parent said that over the course of a year she has noticed a big improvement in his attitude towards writing, especially after attending the graduation ceremony last year, he is now getting better at writing and his attitude towards writing, she thinks this is directly a result of the CU program! Yay!’

Angela Berney, Woodcroft Library – Coordinator

‘We are so glad Kyle got the chance to participate in Children’s University. Kyle is a seven year old gifted boy who is curious and willing to do anything but doesn’t like to write much. But since he started to complete his learning journey or Children University’s activities his writing started to improve.  He is really enjoying completing Children’s University activities and learning new things.   Thank you so much for giving Kyle this opportunity.’  Ruwini, parent of Kyle, 2020