School children, aged 9-11, have completed a ‘take-over’ of the zoo, delivering public talks to inspire thousands of visitors to take action for wildlife.
For the past two years, our education outreach experts have been working with the Ignite Teaching School Alliance (TSA) to embed wildlife conservation into the curriculum in 44 schools across the UK, reaching more than 20,000 children.
Now, a team of young conservationists inspired by the initiative have brought those vital conservation messages to our visitors! A programme of talks and visitor engagement activities, exploring solutions to the global extinction crisis, was supplemented by dance and choir performances in the zoo.
Anya Moon, Assistant Team Manager of Safari Rangers, said:
“This is the latest example of young people showing real leadership and taking action to protect the environment. With one million species threatened with extinction worldwide, it is vital that we listen to these inspirational young voices.”
We’re proud to be able to give these young conservationists a platform; and to empower them. They have spent weeks training for this day with our Zoo Rangers, developing their own powerful talks and engagement sessions.
“This event is the culmination of two years’ work between our education outreach team, a range of partner organisations, 44 schools across the UK and more than 20,000 young people.
“This major initiative is focussed on enabling children to have a voice. We now want to roll this scheme out across the UK, and ensure wildlife conservation is embedded into the curriculum nationally.”
The large-scale education programme has been delivered in partnership with academic experts and teachers. It has seen schools integrate conservation into every subject – from art, science and geography, through to English, maths and IT – to allow students to address real world issues. The whole school approach has been proven to increase children’s motivation levels, and improve learning outcomes and the ongoing education scheme has also had a dramatic ripple-out effect through parents and teachers, engaging the wider community in conservation action.
In partnership with RSA North, zoo conservationists hosted a major industry seminar to explore the issue on 23 October, including speakers from The University of Manchester, zoo staff and Ignite TSA. We are also delivering continuing professional development and planning sessions for education practitioners.
Charlotte Smith, Head of Discovery and Learning, said:
“To see so many young people ‘take over’ Chester Zoo this week has been truly humbling. These young conservationists are our future leaders, and they are already taking action to protect our planet.
“It’s now time for wildlife conservation to become a core component of the education system nationwide, taught across the curriculum in every year group for every child and young person.”
This is critical to the future of the planet they will inhabit; it is as important as any other aspect of their education.
“These real world issues can underpin other aspects of education, and are a powerful motivator for learning. These are the issues our young people care about; and we have to empower them with the skills to solve the challenges we are facing as a society.”