ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Take a look at our latest information below to find out everything you need to know when booking your educational experience with us. We hope that this page will answer any questions that you have ahead of your visit to Chester Zoo. If you have any other queries please don’t hesitate to contact us at learning@chesterzoo.org

From the Autumn term the Government have advised that domestic school trips can resume, which is great news for your learners! We understand that things might feel a little different next time you visit with your school, and you might have some questions.

COVID-19

Are you covid-19 secure?

The zoo is complying with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19. Find out more information here. 

Can schools visit Chester Zoo?

From the autumn term the government has advised that domestic school trips can resume, which is great news for your learners! Schools are advised to keep checking local and national guidelines before undertaking any trip with learners.

How will you ensure schools can visit safely?

We want your learners to have the best experience with us whilst enjoying the zoo in a safe way. We have been working hard to ensure we have everything in place so that you can enjoy your day with us.

  • Chester Zoo has successfully implemented a range of site wide measures to ensure the safety of all our visitors. You can watch our video and find out more here.
  • We have reduced the capacity in our learning venues in line with the latest government guidelines on social distancing, implemented enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures and have adapted our workshops.
  • Educational bookings will be capped per day to ensure large groups are kept at a manageable level.

We ask that schools support us to keep visiting the zoo safe for everyone by ensuring their students follow our site wide safety measures, in particular ensuring social distancing and hygiene measures are followed. All educational groups should be actively supervised at an appropriate ratio for the age of the pupils (link to section on ratios).

How and when can I book an educational visit to Chester Zoo?

Our education booking team are here to help! Whether you are looking for a self-guided visit or want to enhance your visit with a workshop, you can view our in zoo schools learning offer here. Or contact our bookings team learning@chesterzoo.org.

We are pleased to be welcoming education visitors back from Monday 21 September 2020.

Are you running school workshops in the zoo?

Yes. We have adjusted our workshops to ensure we are following the latest government guidelines. Due to smaller capacities in the classrooms we may have to stagger times for your workshops but our bookings team are on hand to help organise this. We have also updated our hygiene and cleaning measures in all our learning activities and venues.  We are providing hand wash to schools as they enter and exit the Learning Centre, and have increased the frequency of cleaning of artefacts used in workshops. We have made a number of changes to our room layout and activities to ensure we are following the latest government guidelines.

Are you running workshops in schools?

Yes. Alongside our in-zoo workshops we have adjusted our outreach workshops to ensure we are following the latest government guidelines. At the point of booking we will discuss your school’s Covid procedures including access, room layout, cleaning measures and workshop resources to ensure safety and peace of mind for staff and students.

What hand sanitiser do you provide?

Hand sanitiser stations are located around the zoo and is provided at the learning centre. Our hand sanitisers are labelled as containing 73% alcohol and advised as being an irritant to the eyes. Our hand sanitiser is also used during outreach workshops. Younger children may need to be more closely supervised when using the dispensers.

Can I visit the zoo beforehand to carry out a risk assessment?

We are hosting a number of virtual twilight sessions for teachers to attend ahead of any planned visits to the zoo. Our team will be on hand to answer any safety questions, practical advice about your visit and support around the curriculum. Please visit our events page for more information. If you are unable to attend these, please contact the bookings team to arrange a pre-visit learning@chesterzoo.org.

Due to Covid-19, visiting the zoo isn’t possible for our school right now, what other learning programmes can schools access?

Our conservation education and engagement work doesn’t stop at the zoo gates, we have an inspiring programme of learning activities that can take place at school delivered by our team, either in person or streamed live from the zoo into your classroom. Find out more here.

Will education visitors need to wear a mask?

Following the government guidelines in England, we ask that all visitors over the age of 11 wear a face covering whilst visiting our shops, indoor enclosed areas and food outlets.

Our main shop is open, but we’ll be limiting the numbers of visitors in the shop at any time and visitors must follow government guidelines around face coverings.

If your group would like to visit one of our shops, we ask that you only enter in small supervised groups. Please contact our bookings team if you would like to pre-order goodie bags for your school.

Can I take my school group into the animal houses and walkthroughs?

Schools are welcome to visit our indoor houses where we have implemented strict limits on numbers and new hygiene measures. We ask that all education groups are supervised by an adult when visiting our animal houses and walkthroughs and limit the number of students to 10 per group. Due to limited capacity there may be a short wait to enter the animal houses.

Will your educators be wearing masks during workshops?

Our staff have been provided with face coverings (which are required to be worn by the general public in our indoor spaces), however following the latest government advice, it is not mandatory for our delivery staff in classrooms. This is reviewed regularly and updated where appropriate.

We are a school and are from an area where there’s a local lockdown. Can we still come on our visit to the zoo?

It depends where your school is based so we would recommend that you check your local guidelines. Unless there is an explicit instruction not to travel for ‘non-essential’ reasons we understand that in most areas it is acceptable to travel to visitor attractions. We advise all schools to seek guidance from the Department of Education and Local Education Authority before visiting the zoo.

My child is booked onto a junior member event and we are from an area where there’s a local lockdown. Can they still attend?

It depends where your live so we would recommend that you check your local guidelines. Unless there is an explicit instruction not to travel for ‘non-essential’ reasons we understand that in most areas it is acceptable to travel to visitor attractions. Please check the government website for information on specific restrictions for your local lockdown area.

EDUCATIONAL VISITS 

What workshops do you have on offer?

You can find out about the content of our workshops by visiting our workshop pages here.

Is the Learning Centre wheelchair accessible?

The Learning Centre is wheelchair accessible by level access or ramp depending on the room. We ask that you make us aware of any wheelchair users when booking so we can ensure the best possible experience.

Do you cater for visitors with special education needs and disabilities (SEND)?

We know that students learn in a variety of ways. We cater for a wide spectrum of learning needs and therefore have a range of differentiation techniques which we can employ. Our education team are very happy to work with teachers to adapt sessions, considering each student’s needs and requirements.

What toilet facilities do you have?

We have eight sets of toilets facilities around the zoo, all of which have baby changing facilities and disabled facilities. We also have a disabled changing room at the Jubilee Toilets (near June Food Court) with a hoist facility. Please note that we are currently limiting the number of people into the toilets at one time to ensure we follow the latest government guidelines. We suggest that school groups stagger toilet breaks, as there may be a small queue.

Are there undercover areas for schools to eat?

We have lots of lovely picnic areas around the zoo. Currently we have very limited indoor seating to ensure we are following government guidelines around social distancing. For other outdoor and undercover ideas, please email our bookings team on learning@chesterzoo.org.

Do you have wristbands for younger schools visitors?

To add a little extra peace of mind we offer wristbands to schools bringing younger children so that you can add your contact details. Our wristbands are free of charge and if you’d like us to send these to you, just ask for them at the time of booking. You’ll need to book in advance, giving us around 10 days to get the wristbands to you and giving you plenty of time to write your contact mobile number on the bands.

Do you have lockers available for schools?

Unfortunately, we’ll be unable to offer lockers for hire due to current guidelines around hygiene.

Do you have any top tips for a visit to Chester Zoo?

There are lots of things to remember on a school trip so here is a list of some items which might be useful:

  1. There’s no such thing as bad weather, but rather bad clothing. Please bring appropriate clothing for your visit, particularly warm waterproof items. On particularly wet days we would definitely recommend wellies!
  2. During the warmer months, the weather can get hot and some areas of the zoo have little shelter, please remember to come prepared with appropriate clothing and items. This should include sun cream, hats and drinks.
  3. Packed lunch. Please remember that these will need to be carried with you as our lockers are currently unavailable.
  4. A camera or iPad to record memories from your day at the zoo.
  5. Any resources you would like your group to complete whilst on your visit. We have a range of exciting activities to download before your visit.

Do you have a Learning Outside the Classroom badge?

Yes we do! You can view our certificate here.

OUTREACH VISITS

Are your education team able to visit my school or group?

Our outreach workshops are available to schools and community groups with the only restrictions being our availability and the travel times – see below:

Travel time from zoo
(based on AA route planner)
up to
30 minutes
up to
60 minutes
Minimum number of sessions

(£100 per session)

2 4
Maximum number of sessions (dependent on 2 staff being available) 8 8

What workshops do you have on offer?

You can find out about the content of our workshops by visiting our workshop pages here.

What space do you need to run an outreach workshop?

All our workshops are designed to be delivered in classrooms or large spaces. They can be delivered in a hall or other space but this is not necessary. KS1 workshops work well on floor/carpet spaces with children sitting in a circle so they can see the items that are being shown.  KS2 upwards may prefer to be on chairs around tables.

Our staff will be required to maintain adequate social distancing from all attendees so the spaces must allow for this.

How many children can attend each workshop?

We can work with up to 30 children per workshop, providing there is space to maintain adequate social distancing for our staff in the space provided.

Can we accommodate your school’s Covid-19 procedures?

If your school would like to enforce the wearing of face coverings or has any other Covid specific procedures that our outreach team need to be aware of please discuss this with us at the point of booking. In line with our own risk assessments our team will be required to maintain social distancing from any staff and pupils they interact with during the sessions.

What do you bring with you for outreach workshops?

Our education team will bring a variety of engaging resources to bring learning to life in your classroom. The resources we use and how your students interact with them will be reviewed regularly to ensure we are working in line with government guidelines and that your pupils are safe. We do not use any live animals in our workshops.

Do I have to stay with my class?

Yes. We will lead the workshop or session with your class, but school teaching staff must remain with them and are responsible for ensuring the behaviour and welfare of the students.

VIRTUAL VISITS

What are virtual visits?

Our online workshops allow our experts to share unique knowledge with your learners through a digital platform. We will use Microsoft Teams to connect your learners from their classroom, venue or from home with our experts in the zoo.

All of our virtual zoo sessions include virtual tours of our animal and plant collections, opportunities for Q+A’s with our team of experts as well as exclusive resources for your learners to complete before, during or after your virtual zoo session. Each session is slightly different so please check the different options here.

What are the advantages of a virtual zoo visit?

We can bring conservation stories to life and connect your learners with animals from around the world, without the need to leave your classroom or learning space.

Whether you are in the Scottish highlands or the Pembrokeshire coast, our virtual trips can be accessed by educators across the world (time zone permitting). These sessions are designed to be flexible around your timetable and can be used to enrich your current curriculum or even introduce new topics.

They can be set up from a classroom, venue or a link can be shared with learners to access from home (subject to safeguarding measures and set up).

If you are a planning a trip to Chester Zoo or have our education team coming to visit your school, the virtual visits are an ideal pre or post-visit activity.

Can you run a virtual session for my learners who are based at home? 

Yes. Whether you have a full class at home (due to COVID or other reasons) or a few individuals at home, our set up means that our virtual sessions can be accessed by everyone in your group*. Our team will be on hand to make sure all your learners have a great experience wherever they are!

*learners will need access to a laptop, tablet or phone device with an internet connection. They will also need access to an email account to access the session link.

What equipment do I need to run the session?

  • An internet connection
  • Web browser
  • Computer with microphone and speakers
  • A webcam or built in camera
  • A large screen, interactive white board or similar to show learners the livestream
  • Any resources listed on the Set up Guide (this will be emailed to you with your booking confirmation)

What resources do I need to run the session?

We will email you a Set up Guide after you have booked the session which will include all resources that you need to print or will need available. All details of what to expect during the call are included in the Set up Guide.

I don’t have a Microsoft Teams account– what can I do?

Don’t worry you do not need a Teams account to access this service. It can be accessed through your web browser. All you need is the link that will be sent you the week before your session.

Why do I need to book a Test Call?

A Test Call will be booked in after you have booked your Virtual Zoo session. This free Test

Call is an essential part of your booking.  It enables us to check that Teams works and that the connection is strong enough to run the session and gives us an opportunity to talk through the session with the class teacher. This must be booked at least one week before your scheduled session.

What will happen on the day of the session?

When you book you will be given a specific time for your session. A member of the team will start a Teams call with you and your learners at the time the session begins. With each of our virtual zoo sessions we will provide additional resources and activities to engage your learners before, during and after the session.

How do you ensure the online sessions are safe?

In order to ensure the safety of all participants, all of our learning activities are thoroughly risk assessed with all members of our delivery team subject to an enhanced DBS check. The link to join the virtual zoo session is secure with only the zoo delivery staff and participating groups having access to the call. We provide additional safety information with your booking confirmation, please take time to familiarise yourself with this. If you have any concerns, these can be discussed with the team during your test call.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

 

Can you provide schools with a risk assessment?

Unfortunately, we are not able to carry out risk assessments on behalf of groups because we are not aware of all the individual circumstances regarding your particular visit. However, we hope the questions and answers below will help you to complete your own risk assessments. Please also refer to specific details about visiting safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

What do we do if we lose a member from our school group?

If you lose someone from group, please ask a member of staff or a volunteer to help (they are recognisable by their blue uniform and zoo logo). They will radio or phone security who will coordinate a search so that you can be reunited.

For younger students wristbands are available to pre order. For older students please ensure they have the contact number of the group leader available in case of an emergency.

It is a condition of booking that you provide us with a contact number for a group leader who will be present at the zoo on the day of your visit.

What first aid provision do you have?

Chester Zoo has a trained team of first responders who are available during opening hours. There is also a dedicated first aid kiosk located at the main entrance near the Zoomobility kiosk. If you require any assistance during your visit please contact the nearest member of staff or a volunteer.

Due to social distancing our first aider may request that people self-administer treatment as per (Covid) guidelines where this is appropriate to do so.

What emergency procedures do you have in place?

The zoo has a comprehensive emergency plan that has been developed in conjunction with the emergency services. These include incidents such as fire, animal escapes and site evacuation. We have trained staff on hand at all times.

What supervision is required for children?

Teachers and other accompanying adults are admitted to the zoo for free or at a discounted rate on the understanding that it is the school’s responsibility to ensure students have a safe and enriching experience at Chester Zoo. We have temporarily adjusted our adult to child ratios for year 7 upwards on the understanding that schools will provide enhanced supervision required around site.

All children (under the age of 16) need to be actively supervised at all times during an educational group visit. This means they should be within sight of a supervising adult.  All groups (under the age of 16)  will need an accompanying adult to enable them to enter ALL animal houses and walkthroughs, our main retail outlets, our major food outlets and ALL play areas.

Accompanying adults will be admitted free of charge at the following recommended ratios
Pre school- Year 3 1:5
Year 4-6 1:10
Year 7 upwards 1:10
1:1 carers Free
Driver Free

For groups of students aged 16+, please arrange to meet students at pre-determined locations around the zoo throughout the day. We expect group leaders to maintain a visible profile, moving around with their students as appropriate.

If you have fewer teachers and/or accompanying adults than our recommended supervision ratios please contact us before your visit learning@chesterzoo.org .

What security measures are there in the zoo?

The zoo has a dedicated security team, which is able to deal with any security issues on site. To help ensure your safety, CCTV is in operation on site.

How do you ensure the safety of visitors around wild animals?

Chester Zoo is operated under strict licensing conditions. A dedicated team of animal keepers care for the animals. All animals are housed in suitably constructed habitats to ensure visitor and animal safety.

There are some areas where animals are in free flight and are not separated from visitors. There should be no attempt to touch animals in these areas. Specific guidance on hand washing and entry conditions apply to these areas.

Do your staff have DBS checks?

All our Conservation Education and Engagement team have current up to date DBS checks. If you are booking an outreach visit please let us know prior to the visit if you require staff to bring this along.

Explore our FREE learning resources

We have LOTS of downloadable learning resources available to you for free, to help support your learning back in the classroom, before and after a visit to Chester Zoo.

DISCOVER OUR RESOURCES

BOOK your VISIT

Find all the information you need to book your school visit, and start the countdown to a unique educational experience with Chester Zoo!

BOOK YOUR VISIT TODAY

What ELSE do we offer?

Whether you want to visit the zoo, have us come to your school or you want to sign up for our virtual zoo visits – or all three – we’re sure we’ve got an offer that will suit your needs.  Our team are always happy to help with any enquiries you may have too.

BE INSPIRED >