Oh, oobee doo . . . everyone can be like zoo-oo!!

Blackpool Zoo has launched a brand new series of animal experiences, which include some aimed at children and adults with additional needs.

The half-day packages have been devised to ensure everyone can enjoy getting up close and personal with the really wild residents.

‘Wanna be’ keepers will shadow the zoo’s dedicated and caring staff in a thrilling three-hour session where they may mingle with monkeys, lounge with the lemurs and serve snacks to the pelicans and penguins.

The Junior Keeper Experience is available to children and young adults aged eight to 17, while the half-day experience is open to anyone over 18.

The Assisted Keeper Experience will be a unique programme devised by the zoo’s Animal Experience Co-ordinator, Connor Blackburn following a personal consultation.

And, as the 23-year-old keeper took part in the zoo’s first ever Zoo Keeper Academy eight-years ago, he is the perfect man for the job.

He said: “I have been passionate about animals all my life and always wanted to be a zoo keeper.

“The Zoo Keeper Academy cemented my passion for the job and I worked at the zoo in almost every department, from catering to admissions, in the years following while I completed my studies.

“I have just finished my Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals and was delighted to learn I have been selected for the role of Animal Experience Coordinator.

“The Junior Keeper Experience is the perfect introduction for anyone considering a vocation with animals and the Half Day programme has been launched as a shortened alternative to our full day offering.

“I am very excited that, for the first time ever, we are able to offer the Assisted Keeper Experience for children and adults with a disability or additional needs, and we will work closely with these people to ensure they get the most out of their time at the zoo.”

All experiences include the following:

  • Feeding time at the zoo! Help to prepare and hand deliver healthy meals to the animals
  • Muck in with mucking out – don’t worry, gloves will be provided
  • Get up close and personal with many of our friendlier residents
  • Let your creativity flow as you and our keepers come up with new and exciting enrichment ideas

Each experience is different and visitors could be working with – tortoises, giraffes, anteaters, tapirs, aardvarks, lemurs, lorikeets, spider monkeys, otters, farm animals, reindeer, pelicans or penguins.

Please be aware – the half-day experiences do not include any activities with tigers, lions, orangutans, gorillas, elephants or sea lions.


The London Improv Theatre Training League (LITTL) in partnership with The Nursery is offering courses for 15-18 year-olds to introduce them to the core principals of improvisation and the enormous positive impact it can have in their day-to-day lives both in and outside of the classroom. They will be starting a full eight-week Saturday course this autumn for young people aged 15-18, as well as offering free one to two hour taster classes in schools across London.


The benefits of learning improvisation have been proven in both young people and adults to improve and promote: communication, decision making, working as a team, social interaction, confidence, active listening, physical awareness and helping with anxiety.


The core skills of improv are useful in a number of different day-to-day environments, and these classes are not purely aimed at teenagers with experience in drama or a desire to perform – they are open to students from all walks of life who may benefit from the supportive, encouraging and creative environment improvisation offers.


The classes will introduce teens to core principles of listening, accepting and celebrating mistakes, working as a team and trusting their own ideas – all while having fun! They are a great way to make new friends, build confidence and learn to express creative ideas clearly and joyfully. The class culminates in an optional showcase at the new Nursery Theatre, Broadgate for students to express what they’ve learned in front of their family and friends!


The course next takes place over eight Saturdays, 28th October to 16th of December from 11 AM – 1 PM at the Nursery Training Centre, Capital House, 42 Weston Street, SE1 3QD. Cost is £250 and there are also scholarships available.


In the lead-up, LITTL is offering free one to two hour taster courses in schools across London, led by experienced teachers and improvisers Molly Merwin, Audra Goffeney and Jennifer Jordan. These can take place either during school hours or at a time to suit after school clubs for a maximum of 30 students.

Exam Results Helpline is back for August 2017

Careers advice service on hand to help stressed-out students


The Exam Results Helpline is preparing for another busy August helping stressed-out students and their families as 2017’s major exam announcements approach.


The 40-strong team of career advice experts provide free, specialised information, help and guidance to students who have higher or lower exam results than expected.


The helpline number 0808 100 8000 opens in Scotland first on August 8, when Higher, Advanced Higher, National and Scottish Baccalaureate results are announced and closes North of the Border on August 16.


It is then open for students in the rest of the UK on August 17, the day A Level results are issued and closes on August 31 following GCSE results on August 24.


Students make the bulk of the calls, but a quarter are parents reviewing options for their children.


A full timetable of opening hours can be found here: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/results/exam-results-helpline


The three top reasons for calling:

  1. What are my options for clearing? (26%)
  2. My results are lower than I expected – what now? (20%)
  3. I don’t know what to do and need careers advice (12%)


Last year (2016) more than 7500 students called to speak with an advisor on the Helpline’s 0808 100 8000 number as well as through dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts.


One of them was Molly Claridge, from Chelmsford in Essex, who had just received grades that resulted in her thinking she would not be able to achieve her first choice degree of Media and Communications at Bath Spa.


Molly, who is now 19 and just finished her first year at Bath Spa, said: “When I looked online and saw my grades I really freaked out as I got lower than I thought. It was so nerve wracking anyway with all the build up to it and so the day itself was pretty traumatic.


“The thing that was confusing was that it said I was still going to get into Bath Spa but I couldn’t really believe that without checking it out properly.


“I called the helpline number and spoke to someone who was so helpful and immediately told me what to do. Their advice is common sense, things like calling the university itself, speaking with tutors, looking at all the other options available – things you really need to hear if you’re worried and don’t know what to do.”


The Helpline is supported by the Department for Education and run by UCAS from its headquarters in Cheltenham.


The advice covers what to do if students haven’t secured the grades they predicted, or if they’ve changed their minds about their chosen course. There is also guidance on next steps for students whose grades are better than expected, help with Clearing and information on apprenticeships and vocational courses.


School Standards Minister for England Nick Gibb said: “Following the culmination of years of hard work, the day students open their results is an exciting yet nerve-wracking time.


“The government has reformed GCSEs and A levels so young people leave school with gold-standard qualifications, which ensures students are taught the knowledge and skills to succeed in the next stage of their education or career.


“The experts at the Exam Results Helpline provide a vital source of information to students and their parents as they carefully consider their options for the future.”


Annie Dobson, one of the career advisors who will be supporting the helpline this year, said: “This is an exciting but sometimes worrying time for students and their families. There is so much expectation on the morning of the results days for A Levels and GCSEs that having a friendly, expert, safe pair of hands to turn to is beneficial – for students and parents alike.


“Through the years advisors have helped tens of thousands understand the best way forward no matter what they are facing. The team for 2017 has already been assembled and are looking forward to supporting this year’s young people as they move into the next stage of their lives.”


Further information including opening hours can be found at https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/results/exam-results-helpline

Are school trip safety fears standing in the way of student learning potential?


It is widely reported that learning outside the classroom brings considerable positive impacts for students of all ages. Whether it be a visit to a local museum or a residential trip, such experiences can transform pupils’ learning by developing their skills and understanding, improving achievement and enhancing confidence and relationships.


“When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving students’ personal, social and emotional development.”



A study conducted by the action research project, Learning Away, concluded that residential trips provide opportunities for schools to enhance vital study and life skills, as well as promote resilience and responsibility. What’s more, they determined that ‘a residential learning experience provides opportunities and benefits that cannot be achieved in any other educational context or setting.’


But the impacts don’t end with pupils, staff also benefit from delivering outdoor learning experiences. Learning Away highlights that teachers’ involvement in trips offers opportunities to try different approaches to teaching, as well as strengthens relationships with their students. These experiences have the most impact when integrated with the curriculum, and are reinforced once back in the classroom.


This message is reiterated by Tim Hoyle, Head Teacher at Huddersfield Grammar School. As a school, they’re committed to offering pupils a rounded education by supporting indoor learning with inspiring experiences beyond the classroom:


“It’s improving their horizons, it’s improving their teaching and it’s improving their relationships with the children. Everything about going away on tour is a positive learning experience.”


Whilst the benefits are evident, there are barriers to teachers taking their students out of the classroom. Information compiled by the School Travel Forum highlights that for 64% of teachers, safety and risk are a concern when organising a school trip. Student safety is therefore a significant issue for teachers considering an educational visit.


The safety and protection of students whilst under the care of school institutions has to be of paramount importance, but with the right measures in place these concerns can be eased.


A strong supporter of outdoor education, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fully recognises that learning outside the classroom brings the curriculum to life, as well as helps pupils develop their risk awareness and prepares them for their future. The HSE states that ‘striking the right balance between protecting pupils from risk and allowing them to learn from school trips is essential for realising all these benefits in practice.’


When recently asked about the risk involved in schools taking pupils on trips, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC), Elaine Skates, asserted:


“To anyone who thinks that school trips are too risky I would ask them about the risks of not taking children outside the classroom for learning, the risks of not expanding their horizons, the risks of not helping them to achieve all they can.”


Elaine recommends that anyone arranging a trip should put their learning objectives at the centre of the planning process, rather than starting with a risk assessment. “Think about what you are trying to achieve for your young people, what their needs are and what the learning objectives are.” In doing so, teachers and students will gain the most benefits from the opportunities they are given.

She goes on to say that pupil safety should be carefully considered through effective planning and prudent selection of providers:


As long as you plan the school trip effectively and you are using venues and providers who you know are of good quality, perhaps because they hold the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge, if anything does go wrong you will be recognised as having done everything possible.”


The safety of young people is a fundamental consideration when organising experiences beyond the classroom, but ultimately it is learning that should be at the heart of planning a visit.

Pupil safety should not deter teachers from offering their students opportunities to learn in a real-world setting. It’s these very experiences that enable students to put their knowledge and skills into practice in a new way, as well as gain considerable benefits as they develop as young people. Through effective planning and careful selection of providers, concerns over safety and risk can be mitigated.


Rayburn Tours are a proud holder of the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge – a national accreditation awarded by the School Travel Forum on behalf of CLOtC – giving trip organisers confidence and peace of mind in the educational quality and safety of experiences provided. The majority of Local Authorities in England & Wales accept the LOtC Quality Badge which minimises or eliminates the amount of paperwork required, meaning you can spend less time form-filling and more time travelling. Find out more about Rayburn Tours by visiting rayburntours.com.


Further information available at:






Free #Fillthegap sampler sessions from RED Academy

Graduates invited to get hands-on with free digital skills workshops

RED Academy, a leading design and technology course provider which works to fill the digital skills gap between the education system and industry demand, is offering free technology workshop sessions in London throughout August and September.

The sessions will give graduates and young adults the opportunity to learn key Digital Marketing and User Experience (UX) Design skills, exposing them to the expertise needed in today’s evolving job market.

The series of summer events kick off on 8 August at 6pm at RED Academy, Aldwych House, London, with a session entitled “Digital Skills Workshop: Social Media that Converts”. It will cover various social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and explore how they relate to business marketing.

For those interested in UX Design, RED Academy is hosting a workshop on 15 August, 6pm, at Aldwych House. The session will give attendees insight into a day in the life of a UX designer, exploring the role and the specifics involved.

Further workshops exploring search engine optimisation (SEO), keywords and conducting user research are also available throughout August and September. The sampler events are open to recent graduates starting out in the industry, those looking for a career change or those who are simply interested in the sector.

Founder of RED Academy, Colin Mansell said: “The importance for young adults to be prepared for the future job market has never been more apparent. Currently, three in four UK businesses report a digital skills shortage among their employees and with over 150,000 digital jobs predicted by 2020, being able to give students real-world insight into industries and skills that are likely to dominate future markets is essential.

“At RED Academy, our ultimate aim is to fill the digital skills gap which currently exists when many young adults leave further and higher education courses. We are offering these free taster sessions in order to expose them to first-hand industry experience and give them an overview of the roles that lie within the digital marketing and UX design spheres.”

The workshops are designed to help people make decisions around potential career opportunities, and to raise awareness of the full and part-time digital skills courses that RED Academy offers. The list of topics are as follows:

Digital Marketing


UX Design


To sign up for the free upcoming taster sessions, please visit www.redacademy.com/news