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Focus Area
  • People
  • Policy
  • At the Zoo
  • UK & Europe
Partners and collaborators

conservation at the heart of school curriculum

Through our conservation curriculum work, we aim to put conservation at the heart of school curriculum. Through building conservation education into school curricula in meaningful ways, we can ensure that conservation action is accessible to all young people and that future generations are equipped to deal with current and future environmental challenges.

We do this by:

  • Providing teachers with the practical input, resources and training they need to teach conservation in their classrooms and playgrounds.
  • Researching how teaching conservation in schools benefits pupils, teachers, society and wildlife.
  • Advocating to school leaders, policy makers and the wider education sector for conservation to be included more formally into school curricula.

A core part of our work to promote a conservation curriculum in schools is the IgniteZoo project. Working with Ignite Teaching School Alliance, the zoo’s education experts have collaborated with pedagogical, curriculum and subject specialists to deliver a programme of teacher and school leader professional development (CPD) that aims to embed conservation campaigns across school curricula.

The CPD programme is delivered throughout the school year, culminating in the delivery of conservation focused projects in schools during the Summer term. By 2020, 84 schools had taken part, reaching thousands of pupils. Many of the projects have resulted in whole school exhibitions and campaigning work that has reached far beyond the school, including engagement with families, businesses and politicians. Each year the project evolves to reach more pupils and explore different aspects of the curriculum, enabling us to research the benefits in different ways. So far, our research has shown increases in knowledge, increased connection to nature and increased sense of agency for pupils and teachers to ACT FOR WILDLIFE.

Targeted outreach projects

Key to developing our approach to teaching conservation in schools and reaching young people, who may have less access to conservation education, are our targeted outreach projects.

Our team of Conservation Education Officers work directly with schools delivering connected workshops, teacher CPD, specialist resources and supported visits to the zoo. Through collaborating with schools on these longer-term projects, evaluating them effectively whilst measuring the impact, we are building a body of evidence about what works, that can be applied by schools and other providers of conservation education.

Working with education specialists, we have translated what we have learnt into toolkits and resources to support conservation based learning in classrooms. Our toolkits provide teachers with everything they need, from lesson plans to worksheets, to turn zoo-led conservation campaigns into meaningful curriculum linked programmes of study.

With partners at the University of Chester, our education team work to engage trainee teachers, building the foundations for embedding conservation at the start of their teaching careers. We are working on ways to expand this work with other providers, and create more specialist training courses at a range of levels.

influencing the education sector

As we build our body of evidence and the tools to support teachers to deliver conservation in their schools, we are seeking to influence more of the education sector to embrace this way of working. Alongside our partners, we also work with campaigning bodies such as Teach the Future, school advisors like Edsential and many others who share our passion for conservation. Ultimately, we want to ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to take action for wildlife as part of their school based education.

We are currently working with colleagues from Ignite TSA, Andrew Knight from the Department for Education, Andy Hodgkinson and Chris McClean from the University of Manchester, and RSA to research the longer term impacts in the schools that have participated so far.

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