More than 85,000 students across the UK are in their local communities taking part in extra-curricular activities and learning through an organisation led by Ger Graus.
As Chief Executive of the national Children’s University (CU) trust, Ger has led the organisation since its inception in 2007 until 2014. Over 70 local centres for 7 to 14 year-olds have been launched around England and with more in the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.
Stoke CU, run by Staffordshire University, now has 2,500 students participating in over 80 activities around the region. Earlier this year, a Staffordshire CU branch was launched in Stafford.
Ger said: “If we want to change things for the better we have got to change them with our children, in all walks of life, not just in schools. Education is the most important thing we do. For our children, learning is a satellite navigation system to better places in life.”
Ger is originally from the Netherlands, where he studied Pedagogy and Languages at the Universities of Tilburg and Nijmegen. He moved to the UK in 1983, when he began a teaching career.
“I came to the UK because I was interested and curious but my plan was only to come for a year. And it has turned into the longest year in living memory!”
Ger has also worked as an Advisor for Manchester City Council, responsible for the introduction of Modern Languages into primary schools, and co-optee on the government’s National Curriculum Working group for Modern Foreign Languages.
He later became a Senior Inspector for Salford City Council, charged with introducing the government’s Excellence in Cities Initiative.
Between 2000 and 2007, Ger was the director of two Wythenshawe Education Action Zones, a leading advocate of private/public sector partnerships for school improvements in the south of Manchester. Following this, he was appointed as Chief Executive of the Children’s University trust.
Ger became Director of Education at KidZania UK between 2014 and 2018; An educational entertainment centre where children aged 4 to 14 can experience the world of work through role-play. In February 2017, he became Global Director of Education in Mexico and the UK.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Ger for his leading role in establishing the national Children’s University.
The Children’s University celebrates the importance of learning outside of school hours, which raises aspirations and achievement, contributing to Staffordshire University’s own commitment to widening participation.