Making wise old owls out of your pupils

Date Posted: 15/01/2015

From work experience, sessions in its onsite Discovery Centre and Owl Roadshows – we found out what the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary can offer teachers on an educational visit.

The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary’s ethos is conservation, rehabilitation and education - and its outreach work with the whole spectrum of educational establishments is central to this.

Located in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, the sanctuary occupies a site of around two acres. As well as offering rescue and rehabilitation facilities for injured wild owls and other birds of prey in its hospital, the sanctuary provides a home for over 80 resident birds.

These include owls, falcons, eagles, hawks, kestrels, red kites, cara-caras and Gypsy the vulture.

A typical school day at the sanctuary

On arrival, school parties are offered a guided tour of the aviaries with a member of the falconry team who will bring birds up close and answer questions.

After visiting the red squirrels and meerkats which are also resident at the sanctuary, children take part in an age appropriate activity relevant to owls/birds of prey/ nocturnal animals or any other specific area of study requested by their teacher.

The S.O.S.Safari Trail offers the chance for the students to search for birds and collect stamps, with a gift for all finishers.

The highlight of each visit is normally the flying displays which operate between Easter and the end of September, giving students can experience the thrill of birds of prey flying free in close proximity.

Classes can also engage in interactive learning in the site’s indoor Discovery Centre, which can cater for children from Key Stage 1 to 5. The education team will tailor activities to teachers’ requirements and options of red squirrel talks and hospital procedure workshops are available for Secondary school pupils.

There's also a personal touch which gives classes the ability to adopt owls through the sanctuary's Saving Britain’s Owls scheme. When they visit they can watch ‘their’ owl fly and enjoy an activity pertaining to their own bird.

Owl Roadshows and experiences outside the classroom

Alternatively, the sanctuary’s Owl Roadshow will travel to schools within a 20-mile radius to introduce children to the world of owls and birds of prey. 

A falconer will take two birds for an hour long close encounter with a class with question and answer sessions and activity.

Every child also receives a free copy of the Stonham Screecher, the sanctuary’s colourful junior newsletter packed full of owl information and quizzes.

Building pupils’ confidence

Free assemblies of roughly 15-minutes duration can also be booked schools local to the sanctuary. A falconer and bird will lead a school’s assembly, inspiring children to look more closely at conservation issues in general and owls in particular.

A huge diversity of young people have benefitted from being involved with the birds of prey and, according to the sanctuary, having a gigantic Eagle Owl land on a child’s arm is one of the most awe-inspiring and confidence inspiring experiences that your students can have!

For more information visit www.owl-help.org.uk.

School Travel Organiser's Guide