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Dec 1, 2008

Teachers Telling Us What They Want

Teachers telling us what they want from Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society  
Teachers telling us what they want: Using focus groups to determine what teachers want from a field trip 

Chester Zoo education staff teach over 20,000 school children a year through the ‘Discovery Programme’.

We noticed an unexplained but significant fall in bookings between 2005 and 2006 and this caused concern. Without rigorous investigation we could not address this situation and the decision was made to convene a series of focus group sessions with teaching professionals.

The objective was to benchmark our offer against the competition and teachers’ needs and implement informed changes to the programme. From these sessions, it was clear that some of the barriers to visiting the zoo were outside our control (e.g. the expense of coach travel and distance) but many teachers expressed their concern over the perceived lack of interactivity available at the zoo when compared to many of the modern museums and National Trust properties. Also, the majority of teachers did not realise what Chester Zoo could actually offer, practically and educationally, to schools, indicating that marketing strategies were not fully effective.

We have used the findings of this investigation to make changes to our offer.
In particular:
• We have addressed the issue of making the zoo experience more participatory
• Taken the issue of housekeeping more seriously
• Revised the way we communicate with teachers in schools
• Reviewed our evaluation tools. 

Developed by:  Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society

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