Words by Neil Harrison, photographs by Sophie Bannister
CHILDREN FROM THREE LOCAL NURSERIES don caps and gowns to celebrate their graduation from pre-school – at a real university.
As part of a ‘fantastic day’, youngsters from Didsbury Pre-school, Macintosh and St. Mary’s Day Nurseries received their diplomas from staff and students at Manchester Metropolitan University, before throwing their mortarboards aloft in celebration.
Unanimous in praising the event, over 200 proud parents and nursery staff were in attendance to cheer on their little graduates. Manager of Macintosh Day Nursery, Sarah Wildon said,
“The children have absolutely loved it. We have been coming here for the end of term graduation for three years now and every year we get great feedback from the parents. We’ll definitely be coming back next year.”
St. Mary’s manager, Lyndsey Walkden, concurred, adding:
“All the children have been really excited all day, every five minutes they were asking ‘can we go yet?’ It’s just so great for the kids to end their experience of pre-school with an event like this. It’s nice having the links with the university and being able to put on such a special day at the end of the year.”
One of the organisers, MMU’s James Draper, explained why it is so important for the university to reach out and engage with the local community,
“Kids Unlimited, the company which runs the three nurseries here today, are a sponsor of MMU’sChildren’s Book Festival. Events like today show that the relationship between the university and its sponsors needn’t be simply a financial one. Integrated into that relationship is a genuine community outreach programme, one which benefits everyone, but most of all the kids here today—what a great way to make young people comfortable within a university environment at an early age.”
One of the beaming parents, Natalie Goodair, herself an MMU graduate, certainly agreed, saying,
“The ceremony is such a wonderful way to get children interested in university life. My daughter is three years old and she’s here today, running around and having a fantastic time. She has decided she wants to be an artist.”
“Days like this are something that they will remember fondly and they will always associate with university—it’s like planting a seed.”