Jill Wright, Head of School at Whitefield Primary School, tells us more about how the school have taken on our Sing for Songbirds campaign and the experience they’ve had:

“Whitefield School is situated in one of the most deprived wards in the country where over half the children live in poverty. Unemployment, crime and poor health feature significantly in the lives of many of our children. Their life experiences are extremely limited.  It is, therefore, the school’s role to educate the children not only in formal, national curriculum subjects, but also give them access to life experiences and show them that there are possibilities for their future beyond their local community.  For these reasons it is important for the school to work in partnership with other organisation. The Safari Ranger visits provided the children with access to expert knowledge and role models for future careers.

“The visit to the zoo was key to the success of the project.  The children were able to see the animals they had been learning about and apply their knowledge and understanding of conservation to other animals. It also supported their spoken language skills and development of vocabulary.  This was evident in philosophy discussions which took place in classes throughout the project.

black winged starling
Black winged starling

“The children, teachers and families have a much better awareness of conservation through working on this project.  ‘Songbirds’ is not an identified area of the current curriculum.  Some year groups do focus on conservation so this fitted in with their learning. However, we decided to suspend out ‘normal’ curriculum for two weeks and focus on Songbirds. This allowed us to teach English, maths, geography, science, art, philosophy and other skills through the topic of songbirds and the children were highly motivated. We also had parent workshops throughout the two weeks where parents came to join in activities and learn about conservation from their children. This, combined with the free family tickets to the zoo meant that the project reached beyond the classroom and into the wider community.

Many of us take a day out to the zoo with family for granted. We know that our children will have the opportunity to learn about the wider world through giving them experiences beyond school. However, in areas of deprivation this is often not the case. It is up to schools, working in partnership with organisations such as the zoo to open the minds of children and families to global issues and wider opportunities. This project has certainly done that and I would have no hesitation in recommending this project to other schools.

“It has been a privilege to be involved in the songbirds project and we would welcome any further opportunities to work in partnership with the zoo.  Thank you for providing an outstanding educational and life experience for the children of Everton.”

The Safari Ranger team also worked in collaboration with AmaSing which is a Community Interest Company committed to organising and developing exciting and inspiring community projects and performances linked with singing, music and arts.

This project involved 34 primary schools in Chester and Ellesmere Port, Education students from The University of Chester, House of Dance and The Hammond School dancers, The Catholic High School Choir and the vocal group Harmonix Vocal Collective.  AmaSing hosted three evening performances at Storyhouse Theatre in Chester.  One of the songs performed by the students was our very own Songbird Song, commissioned by Chester Zoo and written by singer-songwriter Ashley Fayth to raise awareness about the songbird crisis.

Video credit: capture-services.co.uk/amasing / facebook.com/capture.services

Approximately 1,000 students took part in the event, attended by nearly 1,600 parents and supported by 100 teachers from the different schools.  This partnership has been a great opportunity to reach new audiences and to get young people engaged in conservation messages in a creative way.