A unique campus in the countryside

Set within more than 60 acres of working farmland and based in rural West Oxfordshire, Common Leys Farm is home to all our Animal Care courses and is a learning environment like no other.

Meerkats, alpacas, snakes and more!

Our Animal Care students work with a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and birds to gain as broad an understanding of caring for animals as possible, all within specialist indoor and outdoor units and enclosures.

A tight-knit community feeling

All students and staff at Common Leys Farm play a big part in making sure the animals are well looked after and the farm operates smoothly, helping to create a buzzing atmosphere and a friendly, supportive community.

Dream of working with animals for a living?

Our Animal Care & Management courses offer a practical, specialised route into a career for caring for animals of all sizes. A typical day could include feeding the alpacas, checking the nightlife webcam footage and camera traps, learning about livestock feeding habits, before finishing the day by helping to maintain the enclosures. No two days are ever the same here!

You will gain experience and insights into all aspects of looking after animals – biology, behaviour, welfare, conservation, retail management and more – to find out what really motivates you to go further in this industry.

Outside of lessons, learners help to run a dog agility arena at the Blenheim International Horse Trials, organise and run farm events for the public throughout the year, and have the amazing opportunity to go on a South African safari trip to study conservation.

Staff Profile: Nicole Whitefield

Staff Profile: Nicole Whitefield

Nicole went to Nottingham Trent University to study Wildlife Conservation and Ecology, and was lucky enough to carry out a placement year between her second and third year helping to conserve cheetahs in South Africa.

After graduating, she landed a postgraduate job at West Midlands Safari Park as a zookeeper looking after rhinos, giraffes, zebras, hippos and African antelope. After a year in this role, she transferred into the education department at the safari park and this proved to be her gateway into teaching.

"I love seeing the Animal Care students grow in confidence and develop into young professionals, ready to take on amazing careers or progress to uni.

As well as getting to hear my brilliant jokes on a daily basis, the students also get great hands-on experience with a huge range of animals. There are also the external placements which are fantastic for spotlighting what a job in the area they are passionate about is like. Nothing can prepare them better than that!"

Staff Profile: Emma Cross

Staff Profile: Emma Cross

Emma has lived and travelled all over the world, gaining a wide range of skills that she now puts into her teaching on the Animal Care & Management courses.

She was born in Sutherland, Scotland, where nearby osprey, otters, stag, and seals inspired her passion for animals. After completing her BSc in Animal Science at the University of Worcester, she worked in stables, kennels and vets to pick up important experience; journeyed around Uganda, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam; was an Animal Behaviour Lecturer at Hartpury College; and has since taught in Russia, Spain and Italy.

She has now been teaching at Abingdon & Witney College since April 2016.

"The opportunities the students have here at Common Leys are brilliant. We have excellent facilities across the whole site, and this means we can teach to the best of our abilities and the students benefit from that immensely.

Taking students on exciting expeditions and volunteering projects is also a massive draw for me, being something that I have a lot of experience in doing. We organise the trip to the Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa every year and it never fails to inspire both the students and the staff, and it shines a light on what careers are out there for our students."

Staff Profile: Lee Boyes

Staff Profile: Lee Boyes

Lee's journey started with a Level 3 National Diploma in Animal Management, in which he gained a distinction. This was followed with a BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Central Lancashire, an MSc in Animal Welfare and a PGCE teaching degree.

His background includes volunteering and working part-time in vets, kennels and catteries, and becoming a manager of 35-40 staff at Pets at Home. His teaching career started at a college in Shropshire for 4 months, gaining invaluable experience, before being offered the position to lecture on the Animal Behaviour and Welfare and Animal Therapy and Rehabilitation degree courses at the College.

He is also a Level 3 qualified small animal hydrotherapist and continues to learn and develop his skills by studying for a PhD.

"Working with great, ambitious and funny people, staff and students alike, is what makes teaching these courses so enjoyable.

As a group we are always learning from one another, as everyone has their own specialist areas and anecdotes from their various careers, and you can quickly develop your skills in so many areas.

I get a lot of satisfaction helping and watching learners achieve and develop skills for the industry, as you know in will stand them in good stead for the future."

Did you know?

Chloe

Previous school:
Henry Box School


Even though it was a huge change coming here from school, everyone has been so supportive, and I’ve changed for the better.

The campus is amazing and I’ve always wanted to work with animals – being here has really helped me focus on what I want to do in the future, which is to follow the conservation career path.

Having just finished my course, I’m going stay at Common Leys and do the Animal Behaviour and Welfare foundation degree with Oxford Brookes University.

Emma

Previous school:
Larkmead School


Working with a wide variety of animals like reptiles, birds and livestock has been a great experience, and working with different people on different projects – this is something that has improved my confidence and communication.

The variety of what we do on the course is excellent and has helped me to discover what I enjoyed most. In the future, I am planning to do a degree in Wildlife Conservation.

Alice

Previous school:
Henry Box School


I really enjoyed working with the wide variety of animals here at Common Leys Farm.

All the teachers were supportive, friendly and they organised fantastic trips, such as going to Crufts!

College is a great way to meet new people and develop your skills in your chosen area of study. It helped me understand what's needed to go far in the animal care industry.

My future plans are to work in a zoo or safari park.

Your future career

Animal Nursing Assistant

Animal Scientist

Animal Technician

Catteries/Kennels Assistant

Dog Groomer

Dog Trainer Uniformed Services

Pet Shop Manager

RSPCA Inspector

Zoo Keeper

Animal Care & Management Course Listings

Animal Behaviour and Welfare, BSc (Hons) - Top Up

Undergraduate EHCM102P

The BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare Top Up programme can be studied full-time for 1 year or taken part-time across two years, with classes and practical sessions taught at the College's Witney and Common Leys Farm campuses.At Common Leys, you...

14th Sep 2020 - 25th Jun 2021

Monday to Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Foundation Degree

Undergraduate EHWE103P

The FdSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare combines contemporary scientific principles and practical, hands-on training, ensuring that our graduates are successful in both vocational and academic settings.The diverse range of teaching methods and asses...

14th Sep 2020 - 24th Jun 2022

Thursday & Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Animal Care Level 2

School Leaver EFCM101P

This one year, full-time Level 2 course combines both theory and practical animal-related work to cover the key areas of routine management and welfare for animals. You will get to work with a range of animals including reptiles, alpacas, meerkats an...

7th Sep 2020 - 2nd Jul 2021

Monday to Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Animal Care, Level 1

School Leaver EFCM112P

This one year, full-time Level 1 course combines practical animal-related experience on the Common Leys Animal Unit along with theory to cover the key areas of the care of animals. You will get to work with a range of animals including rabbits, alpac...

7th Sep 2020 - 2nd Jul 2021

Monday to Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Animal Management, Level 3

School Leaver EFCM125P

This 2 year course combines both theory and practical work. The course covers the scientific aspects of animal care as well as the advanced aspects designed to give you a broad spectrum of knowledge and the opportunity for progression into higher edu...

7th Sep 2020 - 2nd Jul 2021

Monday to Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Canine First Aid

Part Time ESCP107P

This animal first aid course taught by a specialist professional is perfect for owners of all types of domestic pets who want to be prepared should a pet need emergency first aid or treatment for minor injuries. The course includes a range of species...

3rd Oct 2020 - 3rd Oct 2020

Saturday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Canine First Aid

Part Time ESCP106P

This animal first aid course taught by a specialist professional is perfect for owners of all types of domestic pets who want to be prepared should a pet need emergency first aid or treatment for minor injuries. The course includes a range of species...

13th Mar 2021 - 13th Mar 2021

Saturday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants

Part Time EPCR203P

This level 2 course, one day per week, is an excellent introduction to the art and skills required to become a professional dog groomer. You will work with a variety of dogs in our well equipped dog grooming parlour, learning to correctly and safely ...

23rd Apr 2021 - 25th Jun 2021

Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants

Part Time EPCN202P

This level 2 course, one day per week, is an excellent introduction to the art and skills required to become a professional dog groomer. You will work with a variety of dogs in our well equipped dog grooming parlour, learning to correctly and safely ...

23rd Jan 2021 - 27th Mar 2021

Saturday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants

Part Time EPCM110P

This level 2 course, one day per week, is an excellent introduction to the art and skills required to become a professional dog groomer. You will work with a variety of dogs in our well equipped dog grooming parlour, learning to correctly and safely ...

18th Sep 2020 - 20th Nov 2020

Friday - Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants

Part Time EPCN201P

This level 2 course, one day per week, is an excellent introduction to the art and skills required to become a professional dog groomer. You will work with a variety of dogs in our well equipped dog grooming parlour, learning to correctly and safely ...

22nd Jan 2021 - 26th Mar 2021

Friday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

View course details
City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants

Part Time EPCR204P

This level 2 course, one day per week, is an excellent introduction to the art and skills required to become a professional dog groomer. You will work with a variety of dogs in our well equipped dog grooming parlour, learning to correctly and safely ...

24th Apr 2021 - 26th Jun 2021

Saturday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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Introduction to Lambing

Part Time ESCQ005P

Are you a new smallholder wanting to start breeding your own flock of sheep? Do you find the concept of lambing on your own scary? This day course is designed to give an insight into safe and efficient lambing procedures and aims to equip learners wi...

20th Mar 2021 - 20th Mar 2021

Saturday

Animal Care & Management

Common Leys Farm

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