Bristol Zoo Gardens has been awarded a badge of recognition for its outstanding education provision.
The Zoo has been given the Government-developed ‘Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge’. The badge is a nationally recognised benchmark that brings together all existing safety and quality badges into one easily identifiable mark of quality.
As part of the Zoo’s assessment, inspectors looked at all aspects of the Zoo’s education provision, including its education policy, web information, marketing material, information for teachers, health and safety policy and risk assessments.
Inspectors also sat in on education sessions, spoke to members of the Zoo’s learning department and examined the Zoo’s high-level ropes course, ZooRopia.
Simon Garrett, head of learning at the Zoo, said: “Being awarded the Quality Badge is great because it sends a clear message to teachers that the education provision and the health and safety standards at Bristol Zoo are of the highest standard.”
Quality badge assessor, Tony Thomas, said: “Diverse, innovative and accessible, Bristol Zoo Gardens is a leading education provider, offering a vast array of quality experiences for school children and families.”
He added: “It was wonderful to share the experiences of young and old having 'close encounters' with animals, both large and small, during their education sessions.
“The Zoo’s skilled educational facilitators support learning through exciting programmes which offer the opportunity for face-to-face experiences with animals, whilst exploring where they come from, how they live and what needs to be done to conserve their future.
“Elsewhere in the Zoo, visitors can venture through the tree-tops on the ZooRopia course and take the opportunity to see animals playing, eating, sleeping and relating to one another. A trip to Bristol Zoo is a memorable experience whether you come as a school group, club or family.”
The Quality Badge is awarded to organisations which have pledged to sustain good-quality learning outside the classroom and have met certain criteria.
It makes it easier for teaching professionals to organise activities out of the classroom, by helping them to identify organisations which provide good quality learning activities, reducing paperwork and red tape.
A couple of years ago, Bristol Zoo took part in a pilot of the badge scheme, before it was launched, to review and evaluate the quality of the Zoo’s learning and its safety standards. This pilot helped set the standard for how other learning providers would be measured.
Bristol Zoo has been teaching school groups since 1990, when it taught around 12,000 students per year. Now the Zoo teaches over 37,000 pupils each year, from Early Years to degree level, from special needs to children’s clubs, on over 40 subjects. This autumn the Zoo is due to welcome its 500,000th pupil through the doors.
Education sessions take place in themed classrooms in the Zoo’s Conservation Education Centre. Teachers can arrange a free pre-visit of the Zoo’s facilities, after making a provisional booking with the Zoo. For more information, visit the website at www.bristolzoo.org.uk/education or phone 0117 974 7369 or email firstname.lastname@example.org