24 Nov 2022

For several years, Chester Zoo have been working with schools across the region to embed conservation and sustainability at the heart of the school curriculum. Through activities like the IgniteZoo project and our schools outreach projects we’ve been engaging with young people to inspire the conservationists of the future.

In the Autumn term, nearly 100 young people from 11 schools took over the zoo with a programme of talks, visitor engagement activities and expressive arts performances, exploring solutions to the global extinction crisis.

“We hope that people come out of this with a deeper understanding that animals are close to extinction and realise that they really need the help.”

St Bernard’s Primary School pupils.

Young conservationists from the schools engaged with zoo visitors, speaking passionately about topics such as sustainable palm oil, the illegal wildlife trade, fast fashion and the impact of plastics and waste in the world’s oceans.

Sean Dick, Learning Operations Manager, said: 

“To see so many young people ‘takeover’ Chester Zoo is truly amazing. These young conservationists are our future leaders, and they are already taking action to protect our planet. 

We believe that wildlife conservation should 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 are the issues our young people care about; you can see the passion and authenticity that they speak with, and we have to empower them with the skills to solve the challenges we are facing as a society.”

By developing our outreach project work and teacher CPD in partnership with academic experts and teachers, we have created a model that integrates conservation in a cross-curricular approach – from art, science and geography, through to English, maths and IT.  In doing this, the teachers and our education team encourage young people to look at real world issues from many different perspectives and apply their learning in a tangible way.

It’s through events like our School’s Takeover Day that young people get to take everything they’ve learned in school and showcase this by becoming a voice for change in conservation.  By giving them a platform, we hope that they feel more empowered to speak confidently about these important issues in the future.

“I think it’s good for the zoo to get involved with teaching young people, because we’re the next generation and if we don’t do something about it, then nobody else will”

-St Mary’s Catholic College pupils