YOUNGSTERS at an Ilkley primary have planted hundreds of trees as part of a scheme to learn about wildlife.

Groups from Ben Rhydding Primary planted 420 trees including silver birch, wild cherry, hazel saplings and rowan on the school’s playing field. A total of 220 trees were tagged with the name of every pupil.

The initiative forms part of the school’s science week with the trees provided by the Woodland Trust under its Trees for Schools initiative, a partnership with DEFRA – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - to give away 400,000 free trees over four years to English state-funded primary schools.

Wharfedale Housing Association Incommunities estate services’ supported the project by cable scanning the site ahead of the planting to check for any buried obstructions. The housing group’s construction training team has also worked with the school to run classroom sessions looking at science and engineering in the world of work.

The children chose the tree planting area and have left a circular space ready for an outdoor classroom. The school is awaiting a decision on a local grant to complete the feature with a chip bark surface and bench seating.

Glenda Cumberland, Key Stage 2 Leader and Year 6 teacher at Ben Rhydding Primary, said: “The children have really enjoyed taking their science learning from the classroom into the outdoors and getting ‘hands-on’ in their understanding of the value of trees to the environment.

“We are extremely grateful to the Woodland Trust and Incommunities for all their support.”

Simon Thompson, Project Manager for the Trees for Schools programme at the Woodland Trust joined in the planting day and said: “With the help of funding from DEFRA we are really able to engage with young children in an exciting way about the woodland around them.

“It was brilliant to see how much the children were getting out of planting trees and creating their own woodland area. I’m sure that it will help to inspire a lifelong enjoyment of trees and the environment around them.”

Peter Catterick, Incommunities’ Head of Estate Services and Sustainability, said: “We are extremely proud to support this important environmental project and thrilled to see the Ben Rhydding pupils learning through this practical exercise.

“Incommunities is committed to protecting our environment through our different services. Linking up with schools, colleges and other agencies is a great way to inspire our younger generation to learn about and respect the natural space around them.”