West Midland Safari Park has launched a programme aimed at helping students succeed in university applications.

The Conservation Pioneers scheme works with local colleges and sixth forms to support young people across Worcestershire in gaining places on courses such as ecology, animal science and zoology.

The park’s Education Team set up the project after The Nuffield Foundation, a charitable trust funding research into education, justice and welfare, found students whose parents are not graduates are less likely to go to university.

The scheme is offers students who are ‘first in family’ learners and intend to start university in September 2024 a three-day experience where they can gain relevant skills to put on UCAS applications.  

Senior education officer, Chloe Walton-Stenson, who helped set up the programme, said: “This is the first time we have run this programme and it has been a great success. ​

“Students reported back to us that they had developed skills in at least one area, with some students reporting that they felt more confident in up to five out of the six areas we asked them about.

“They also commented that staff were approachable, the activities were fun, and the time with us was useful in developing their personal statements.” 

The students who took part got involved in a range of activities including husbandry with exotic species, conducting an ecology survey, running observations on animal behaviour and self-reflection sessions.

The learners then logged the skills they had developed with the intention of using them when they start writing their applications.

The project is part of the safari park’s commitment to help the local community and provide opportunities for learners across the county.

Worcestershire colleges or sixth forms interested in sending students on the programme next year can contact the Education Team on education.team@wmsp.co.uk

For more information visit www.wmsp.co.uk