We offer an innovative learning programme for vulnerable young people. We aim to provide positive experiences for those disengaged from mainstream education and re-engage these groups with nature and the world around them. Courses can be tailored for groups of all ages.

Pupil referral unit animal course

The courses consist of both practical tasks and short, interactive classroom-based activities. They focus on experiential learning, allowing links to both the National Curriculum and the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL).

Each course can be tailored specifically to the needs of the groups, but courses usually run as six  4 hour sessions, split over 6 weeks.

Theory sessions and practical activities follow a clear theme every week in order to create a clear schedule of tasks. Practical tasks in the zoo are part of the keepers’ routine, bringing a sense of responsibility and pride for the students. Tasks could include preparing feed, creating animal enrichment and cleaning out animal enclosures. All encourage teamwork and aim to build confidence. During their time on the course, students will build up a portfolio which will evidence all of the work that they have completed while attending the course. 

Our staff have experience working with PRUs and aim to keep a calm, encouraging atmosphere by enforcing a strong routine, clear expectations and positive attitudes.

On completion of the course, students will have a graduation where parents/guardians are invited and they are presented with a certificate of achievement and a ZSL Zoo Academy hooded sweatshirt. For older students, a reference for future employment or college placements is provided which has proved a strong incentive for many students so far.

Pupil referral unit student with lemurs at Whipsnade Zoo


Previous courses have been evaluated to highlight the impacts on students. Positive impacts have been shown in the following areas:

  • Empathy towards animals
  • Increase in confidence around new people and experiences
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Managing feelings, particularly of nervousness
  • Increase in attention and cognitive learning when in the presence of animals

Behaviour is also managed by enforcing a strong routine and making expectations and consequences clear. Positive language and a flexible approach ensure students get the most from the course.

Price and Further Details

The price of each tailored course is variable depending on the number of pupils, length of each session and duration of the course.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your specific needs.

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    Wildlife teaching resources

    Online resources

    From equipping students with the knowledge to carrying out their own animal behavioural study to animal treasure hunts, our resources will help capture the imagination of your students both in the classroom and at the Zoo. 

  • A lynx paws a pumpkin at Whipsnade Zoo
    Bringing learning to life

    Educational workshops

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  • Three tiger brothers Makari Czar and Dmitri
    Online education sessions

    Digital Outreach

    We're bringing the Zoo to you, with digital learning sessions which support your classroom learning. Calling live from the Zoo, each session is designed to meet specific curriculum links that directly relate to our conservation work.