Sandford Award Education & Tours

Fota Wildlife Park is one of only two organisations in Ireland to receive the Sandford Award for Heritage Education, along with Muckross Traditional Farms in Kerry.

Fota Wildlife Park is delighted to announce that it has been chosen as a recipient of the Sandford Award in both Ireland and the UK in recognition of the standards set by our Education Department.

Having previously attained a Sandford Award in 2008, the award provides a ‘kite mark’ for high quality education provision which is recognised by schools and other education institutions across Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The Award is granted for a period of five years and each site must then reapply to be assessed by a panel of independent judges. The Sandford Award assessment stipulates that awardees must show a comprehensive understanding of relevant local and national heritage, and offer excellent educational resources and facilities that really enhance the quality of the student’s visit.

Lead Judge of the Heritage Education Trust, Gareth Fitzpatrick commented:“With an education service of exceptional quality, Fota Wildlife Park well deserves a further Sandford Award in 2013. This award reflects a commitment to quality and constant improvement with a flair for innovative new programmes. The high standard of content of the schools’ programmes, combined with sensitive use of real specimens and handling materials allows students of all ages to discuss the very real issues facing natural environments both locally, nationally and globally. The opportunity to learn about the national heritage -that is the native wildlife of Ireland and its place alongside the global conservation work and research that takes place with the more exotic residents is inspirational. The knowledgeable, experienced and helpful staff  provide all the information needed for teachers and pupils to plan their visit and deliver  programmes that are well balanced to enrich children’s learning. “

The Award recognises the Park as a centre of Heritage Excellence and is designed to encourage institutions to attain the best possible standards when it comes to the quality of teaching on site, facilities provided, course content and ensuring teachers and students alike enjoy their experience.

Lynda McSweeney, Head of the Education at Fota Wildlife Park, said: “Receiving such a prestigious award is extremely important for Fota Wildlife Park. It demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that Fota is a highly-successful Heritage Education facility for our visitors, especially our many school groups that visit.

“At Fota Wildlife Park we offer children from all backgrounds the potential to learn, and it takes children out of the classroom and gives them a new and more interactive method of learning. It also demonstrates that even though there have been huge developments in technology over the years, it is the course content and the manner in which it is delivered that really strikes a chord with teachers and their students.”

The award will be formally presented to Lynda Mc Sweeney Walsh, Head of Education at an official awards ceremony in the UK in November.