Practical, hands on courses for Pupil Referral Units, Alternative Provisions and Youth Groups

A world where wildlife thrives is a world where we all thrive. London Zoo runs a suite of unique and innovative courses and programmes for vulnerable young people, including with pupil referral units (PRUs) and alternative provisions. We aim to provide positive experiences for those disengaged from mainstream education and re-engage these groups with nature and the world around them. 

Feedback we've received on our courses

  • Many of the students feel very uncomfortable reading and writing but can literally see progress in front of them in the jobs at the zoo – this visible impact is massively empowering to them.
    - Camden Re-Integration Base at Haverstock School
  • Ah Miss, this is proper sick innit.
    - Pupil Referral Unit Student
  • Today was the most brilliant day ever! After waiting 11 months it was finally our turn to go to the zoo. [...] Next time i want to go on the bike and the butterfly part because it was so calming.
    - Student from Robson House Primary PRU
Students mucking out the camel enclosure
Students in a classroom

The programme

Our award-winning programmes for PRU learners are designed to be practical, dynamic and flexible to meet the learners needs on any given day. The zoo provides a uniquely engaging environment which helps to focus students on hands on tasks, from food preparation to enclosure design, allowing students to see the real-life impact of their work in a way sometimes lacking in the classroom. 

Tasks are planned to encourage the social and emotional aspects of learning, and motivate learners to work together, use their initiative and build their confidence. 

Each course is tailored specifically to the needs of the group, but courses usually run as six or eight 2-hour sessions, split over a number of weeks. 

Alternatively we also run single day programmes for groups wishing to get a taste of how the zoo could be beneficial to them. These can also be perfect one off activity days for youth groups to take part in. 

ZSL staff have a depth of 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 receive a certificate of achievement as well as accredited AQA unit award scheme certificates, meaning students leave with a certificated record of their learning and the skills developed. For older students, a reference for future employment can be provided which has proved a strong incentive for many students.

Students stroking a goat
Primary Caring for Animals Course - Students feeding alpaca


Previous courses have been fully 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.

Booking a course or taster day

If you are part of a Youth Group, Pupil Referral Unit or Alternative Provision, we could have the perfect course or day for your students. Our capacity for these courses is limited, and priority is given to organisations in our local area of Camden and Westminster.

The price of each tailored course is variable depending on the number of pupils, length of each session and duration of the course, but roughly works out at £45 per hour plus zoo entry.

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities for your group, please get in touch at [email protected] to discuss your needs.

Get in touch to discuss

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