Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

We are continually striving to improve our provision for SEND students at the Zoo. This includes the sessions available for SEND school groups to ensure we meet the diverse needs of all our learners. Our sessions can meet the needs of many different levels of learners with a variety needs, whether they are mild or complex learning difficulties or physical, emotional and behavioural needs.
Please ensure you provide any relevant information to our education team when discussing sessions to ensure we can provide suitable learning pitched at the appropriate level for your group.

Click on a topic, or scroll down the page for more information:

SEND Prepaid Tickets

Are you a SEND school who visits Colchester Zoo frequently?

 If so, contact us to discuss our prepaid school tickets for SEND registered special school groups.  These tickets give you access to our discounted school rates, but without the need to pre-book your visit so you have the flexibility to visit whenever you’d like, with as many pupils as you’d like!

Complete our SEND Prepaid Ticket request form (click to download) and return it via email to education@colchesterzoo.org to book these open dated tickets.

If you would like to visit on a specific planned date, please complete our standard online school booking form (click to open link)


We have a number of resources designed to help you plan your visit and enjoying your day.
Click on each item to open the pdf in a new window.

Please also see the general zoo access page for further details about access around Colchester Zoo including visits with assistance dogs, audio information, etc.

Classroom Accessibility

Most of our classrooms are accessible to wheelchair users. When booking, please inform us if you have wheelchair users in your group. If there are multiple wheelchair users we may need to assign you to a specific classroom or modify activities to better suit your needs.

Education Session for SEND Groups

Please see our SEND School Session page for full details of our Explore, Animal Careers, and Animal Enrichment Sessions.

Additionally, many of our other school sessions can be adapted or modified to suit the needs and learning outcomes of your group. Details on all the available sessions can be found from the ‘Education Tab’ of the website under the relevant age ranges.
If you are interested in booking any of these, please contact the education department education department at 01206332511, or 01206332512 or via email at education@colchesterzoo.org, to discuss your groups’ specific needs and ensure the teaching sessions are appropriate for your group.

SEND Outreach Programme

Our zoo experts will come to you!

This outreach programme will give your SEND school or class the opportunity to book a package of educational visits from our zoo experts. Each week for five weeks, a designated member of the conservation education team will visit you in your setting to lead sessions on the topics of your choice. This will offer your learners the chance to get hands on with biological artifacts such as furs, skins, skulls and feathers as well as learn more about the natural world.

Before the first visit, our educator will consult with you to determine which topics and subjects will best suit your learners needs from the over 80+ education sessions that we offer. This includes subjects such as Maths and Art, to biology or STEM careers. Sessions generally last 45min-60minutes, but modification may be possible to better suit the needs of your learners.

Please note that we do not bring live animals on outreach sessions.


This outreach programme is designed to last 5 weeks, with a visit to the same class each time, over one half-term. You will also receive open-dated tickets for each child and carer/assistant included in the package price. This will allow you to visit the zoo in-person to put the learning into action at a time and date that best suits you.

The outreach programme (5 visits and tickets to the zoo) costs:

  • £500 for 1 class (up to 30 students)
  • £800 for 2 classess*
  • £1000 for 3 classes*

*with 2/3 session for two/three different groups at the same location, on the same day, per outreach visit

Availability is limited, and this outreach programme must be booked in advance of half-term you are interested in. To discuss availability, or any questions, please contact our education department via email at education@colchesterzoo.org

Booking Your SEND School Visit

Booking a visit with Sessions

Please contact our education department at 01206332511, or 01206332512 or via email at education@colchesterzoo.org to discuss potential sessions or book a session for your group.

Booking a General Visit

If you are just visiting the zoo on a general visit, and you do not want an educational session, please complete our online booking form (click to open in new window).

Booking Open-dated Tickets

If you visit regularly and would like the flexibility to visit whenever you want without pre-booking a visit for a specific date, please see our pre-purchase ticket option for more details.


Adult carers are admitted free of charge at a 1:1 ratio for any pupils with physical or emotional disabilities, are the subjects of SEND statements or EHCPs, or can provide other evidence of specific needs. Please note that you must declare the need for these carers on the day of your visit based on the pupils who attend on the day.

You may be asked for verification of the need for carers at entry. A letter on school letterhead is acceptable proof.

If you require a higher ratio of carers, please contact us at education@colchesterzoo.org

Meeting Animals Up Close

Please note that none of our education sessions include live animals. If you would like your group to stroke or hold animals this can be done at anytime throughout the day by dropping in to the Discovery Centre, or at set times (see the sign at the building for details) at the Sensation Station. There are also animals visitors can stroke or feed at the ‘Familiar Friends’ Farm section of the zoo (see specific signs at the animals for which animals this is allowed with). These activities are all drop-in and cannot be pre-booked.

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