10 Dec 2019

Here at Chester Zoo, we are loud and proud about the amazing conservation work our teams carry out to help PREVENT EXTINCTION around the world, but we can’t achieve this on our own.

A MILLION species face extinction. Our climate is changing. We must act NOW to prevent the collapse of the natural world. As a leading conservation and education charity, we are calling on whichever party wins the election to embed conservation action into the curriculum of all schools in the UK. Young people should not need to strike from school for their voices to be heard.

To our potential political leaders…

We write to you on behalf of the millions of schoolchildren and educators who want to prevent the collapse of the natural world, not just in the future but right now. Not enough is being done or has been suggested in any of your manifestos to really galvanise the power of our young people or to address the role of the education system in protecting the environment. We want to see educational reform that will equip young people with the skills, attitudes and motivation to play an active role in solving the environmental challenges we face today.

Do our political parties really believe that children should have to strike from school in order for their voices to be heard? We have shown how we can harness that passion to benefit not only the planet, but also educational attainment and wellbeing.

Chester Zoo and Ignite Teaching School Alliance have been working together with schools across the North-west of England, to design whole school curricula centred around taking action for conservation. We have demonstrated the value of embedding conservation themes across the whole curriculum. Through enabling schools to play an active role in addressing real world conservation issues we have seen investment in learning and educational outcomes rise, particularly in our most disadvantaged students. Reluctant writers have written articulately about issues they care about, teachers have reconnected with their love of teaching and school communities have come together to take action to protect the planet.

Furthermore, with children becoming increasingly disconnected from nature, a conservation based curriculum enables children to reconnect, supporting their own wellbeing and engendering a sense of environmental responsibility.

School children take over performance | Chester Zoo

We believe education should connect children to nature, inspire them to take action for the environment, empower them to contribute as active citizens and enable them to be heard by society. An education that embeds wildlife conservation themes at its core does all this and enables schools to take an active role in society. It also has the potential to reinvigorate school leadership – something we have seen first hand.

We call upon political leaders to consider the welfare of children, teachers and the planet in any reform of education and to help make conservation action the norm in our society. We know from our work, that a curriculum with conservation at its heart is not only desirable, but also possible without compromising other aspects of a child’s education. It is however, often precluded by the many demands of the existing system: the pressures of testing, inspection and narrow measurement of success.

We must ensure that the work of our teachers, leaders and schools truly helps the next generation to ‘thrive’. In doing so, we must look at the challenges we face today and channel our energies to what matters most for our young people and planet.

This is what we ask – the removal of restraints and a mandate to ensure conservation action is embedded across the curriculum of our schools.

Our young people should not need to strike from school for their voices to be heard. We should design our education system around young people’s needs, society’s needs and the planet’s needs.

Whichever party wins this election, we call on you to consider the true impact that education should / could have, how it supports children to contribute actively and be heard.

We call on you to embed conservation action into the curriculum of all schools across the UK.

From Chester Zoo with Ignite TSA

Charlotte Smith, Head of Conservation Education & Engagement
Andy Moor, Director Ignite TSA and CEO Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust




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