Yorkshire Wildlife Park launch new online versions of its award-winning education programme

5th October 2020

Yorkshire Wildlife Park has launched a new version of its award-winning education programmes for schools both online and on park visits as part of a reassessment of providing world class education in a Covid safe environment. 

The amazing wildlife of Yorkshire Wildlife Park will be beaming into schools as part of new education initiative this autumn alongside covid-safe visits.

Virtual visits to the award-winning park, including live Q & A sessions from Project Polar are being offered to schools to inspire studies and animal conservation.

The virtual visits connect schools with the Wildlife Discovery Classrooms at the park where sessions with live animals will be broadcast along with opportunities to talk to the education team live from the ten-acre Project Polar, home to three polar bears. They were launched after a comprehensive review into how to support schools with new and revised programmes in light of the pandemic and ongoing restrictions. 

News of the new online scheme was announced as the first schools returned to YWP last week with pupils enjoying a bit of normality away from the classroom - meeting animals and experiencing outdoor learning.

Jade Bancroft, Education Manager at the park has been amazed at the response from schools. ‘ In the 3 weeks since the schools returned,  9 schools have been to visit the Park and we have delivered 7 of the virtual sessions already, which have only just been launched. This has been an incredible response and it is wonderful that even though times are difficult for everyone, we are still able to inspire children about wildlife and the wonderful animals at the Park. There is a lot of interest from schools who realise the importance of teaching out of the school environment and YWP is an extensive outdoor attraction with a great education offer, it is an attractive proposition.

The teachers from the schools praised the park for the organised and safe arrangements.

One said “We have come to YWP today and I just wanted tell you all really how safe it is and how much of a great time we had. Everything just feels so safe, there was hand sanitiser everywhere and signs around and it’s just really well organised.

“We did one of the education sessions - Lisa was brilliant, she stood at the front of the classroom and the children had hand sanitiser while the artefacts where handed out, so things can still happen in a normal way but it just feels really safe around the park and I would highly recommend coming. 

“I know at the minute we are trying to keep things as normal as possible for the children and YWP today has been great so I would definitely recommend it"

Another teacher said, “We have had a brilliant day at YWP today, we were met at the gates by one of the guides that led us in and made us feel really safe.  There is plenty of opportunities for the children to sanitise their hands as they are walking around the park and with such big open spaces it was a perfect place to bring the children during this time."

The Park has also introduced Walking Expedition tours aimed at Key Stage 2 pupils. These feature visits to the South America, Africa or the brand-new Himalayan Pass & Experience Ethiopia reserves. These tours last an hour, giving schools plenty of time to explore the rest of the park.

“We are determined to give schools and children opportunities to learn about and get close to our animals even during these challenging times,” said Jade.

“The virtual visits are packed with fascinating facts and information about our animals and they can be booked as stand-alone visits or as a post-visit experience. It is important that we continue to give our children the chance to learn about animals and nature.”

 Complimentary virtual visits will be available to primary schools that visit the park in the autumn and winter, added Ms Bancroft.

The park has a ‘Good to Go’ rating from Visit Britain as well as a COVID-19 safety certification and strict measures are being observed across social distancing and cleaning protocols.

School parties will be met at the gates where a separate school entrance has been created and numbers of education visitors on site will be limited. If education sessions are booked whilst on site,  start and finish times will be staggered, and parties will be a maximum of 24 children and two adults. Each school group will have a designated member of the education team and a classroom for exclusive use during their visit, which will be cleaned before being used again. 

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