First-class celebration for young Sunderland graduates

A special ceremony was held yesterday for children at St Mary's Childcare Centre based at Sunderland University to mark them moving on to primary school

Children graduating from Sunderland University's St Mary's Nursery with PC Gemma Calvert
Children graduating from Sunderland University's St Mary's Nursery with PC Gemma Calvert

Children as young as three proudly donned their gowns and mortarboards to graduate to school.

A special ceremony was held for the youngsters at St Mary’s Childcare Centre, based at Sunderland University, to mark their final year before moving on to primary school.

The group of 24 children said goodbye to their friends and staff, and were joined by the campus police officer for the special event.

The children have been learning to count in Spanish and French as well as English during their time at the nursery.

During the ceremony, the children sang a song in French called Bonjour, showing off their knowledge of the language.

The finale of the emotional day saw all the children receive a certificate and a cuddly toy.

The nursery, based on the university’s City Campus, is a popular facility for students and staff.

This is the seventh year it has held a graduation. The children are all aged three to four and will now go on to primary school in September.

Susan Glendinning, childcare centre manager, said: “Our children and staff have been planning the graduation ceremony for the last month during activity time within the nursery.

“Staff have brought in photographs of themselves graduating and have explained that the ceremony is a positive change which means the children are growing up and moving on.”

The awards were presented by the campus police officer, Gemma Calvert, who helps make the university as safe as possible for the young children and staff.

PC Calvert said: “It was an honour to give out the certificates to the university’s nursery graduates.

“I think it’s important children become familiar with police and build trust in officers from a very young age so they know they can come to us in the future with any concerns they have.

“Being involved in the ceremony also helps build on the very strong links between myself and the university’s students and staff.”

St Mary’s Childcare centre opened in 1990 and works with parents to provide education and care.

It provides childcare from birth to 12 years of age, with the aim of improving the lives of those who work and study at the university and the lives of their children.

The nursery graduation was the brainchild of the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Peter Fidler.

He said: “At Sunderland we pride ourselves on providing life-changing opportunities for all.

“The years these children have spent at St Mary’s have given them a solid start to their educational lives and hopefully one day we’ll be welcoming them back as undergraduate students.”



David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer