A SPECIAL graduation ceremony was held at a university’s on-site nursery ahead of ceremony for thousands of students.

Children as young as three donned traditional gowns to get their scrolls at Sunderland University’s St Mary’s Childcare Centre

On hand to pass out the graduation certificates was Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell attending his first ‘mini-grad’ ceremony.

During the afternoon, the children sang songs, and showcased some of the skills they had learned during their time at the nursery, including learning Spanish, French, and English. They were then presented with a certificate and teddy.

Jennifer Boyce, deputy childcare manager at St Mary’s said: “This year’s graduation was a great success and was enjoyed by everyone who came along. We are very proud of all the children and want to take this opportunity to wish them lots of luck in the next chapter of their lives.”

The nursery, based at the University of Sunderland’s City Campus, is used by both students and staff, and they have been holding graduations for more than a decade.

Sir David Bell said: “You might think that being the vice-chancellor of a university is intimidating for me but I’m the only one in the country who has also been a headteacher.

“And I’ve experienced being with reception age children only to suddenly realise that they are slowly undoing my shoelaces.”

St Mary’s Childcare centre, which opened in 1990, 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 of Sunderland, and the lives of their children.

It was rated outstanding when it was last inspected by Ofsted.