THE aspirations of young people in Burnley are to be given a boost as a Children's University is to be launched in the town.

Council bosses have backed plans to develop after-school opportunities for hundreds of children across Burnley and Padiham.

Burnley Council's executive will be recommended to agree a three-year programme costing £20,000, which will encourage children aged five and above to try new experiences outside of school hours.

Youngsters will be able to dive into history, the human body and medicines, energy and the environment, space, micro-organisms and exercise among other things.

Parents will be able to take their children to 'learning destinations' such as Towneley Hall, local businesses or leisure centres to take part in extra curricula activities.

Community leaders described the initiative as a 'real game changer' for the borough's young people.

The possible activities on offer could range from trips to the likes of the Museum of Science and Industry to involvement in drama workshops, sports, cooking, martial arts, and arts and crafts.

If given the go ahead, the money would enable all 32 primary schools across the borough to take part.

Cllr Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, said putting in the work now for children at primary school age will bear fruit for future generations to come.

The Children's University will form part of the national educational charity, The Children's University, based in Manchester.

It operates in 70 areas across the country including Blackburn, Blackpool, Ormskirk and Bolton.

Julie Cooper, Burnley MP, said: "This is an exciting initiative that I welcome wholeheartedly.

"Raising aspirations and motivating children at an early age has the potential to be a real game changer for the individuals and their families.

"The benefits though will also impact widely on our growing local economy helping to ensure that local businesses and local industry has access to a skilled and talented workforce."

The council's executive committee is to vote on the proposals at a meeting next week.

Cllr Townsend said: "Although Burnley Council isn't directly responsible for education, we have a long-standing commitment to working with partners to raise aspiration and attainment among our young people.

"A good, well-rounded education is the foundation for a successful adult life.

"Having a workforce of well-educated and skilled young people is also essential for the future of our borough.

"Burnley has a growing reputation as a great place to live, learn, and build a business however we realise there are challenges.

"Overcoming these challenges means giving our young people the best start in life through a good education and also helping young adults get ready for working life."

If the project is successful it is hoped individual schools will help finance the project in the long term.

County Cllr Susie Charles, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "We welcome the Children's University initiative and the way it encourages young children to try new experiences outside of normal school hours.

"It provides another way of making learning fun and enjoyable and enhancing the excellent education that all children deserve.

"We would look forward to working with Burnley Council on this."

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the borough council, said: "The children of today are the adults of the future so if they can learn about things that they don't get in school it can only benefit then.

"It will be a great plus for Burnley if our children are growing up with lots of enthusiasm for learning and have a strong knowledge.

"Extra activities which are fun and engaging sound like a great idea to me."

Cllr Townsend added: "There are many good schools in Burnley, nevertheless raising aspiration and attainment is not just about what goes on in school.

"Children need many things to support their learning in the early years and, as a council, the opportunity is there to support our families and children to be school-ready through a community based approach.

"This means supporting families to take part in learning opportunities outside of formal educational settings in our communities.

"That's why Burnley Council is committed to helping to establish a Children's University, along with supporting other initiatives that will raise the aspirations and attainment of youngsters across the borough."