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Woodland Trust makes lesson planning a doddle with new schools resource

A growing desire from schools to plant trees has led the Woodland Trust to launch a new resource for teachers.

The resource, Tree Tools for Schools, goes hand in hand with a scheme funded in 2016 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which will provide 100,000 trees a year to state funded primary schools in England by 2020.

There’s an interactive planning tool, games, quizzes and printable worksheets, all aimed at making lesson planning a doddle. There’s also a section on after care including a simulation showing how the trees will grow over ten years and the management they will need each season.

Everything is curriculum-linked and teachers can search by key stage or subject, making it easy to teach children about the multiple benefits trees provide for people, wildlife and the environment.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said:

“This new resource will bring the outdoors into the classroom – connecting children across the country with nature and helping them to appreciate the value of trees to our environment.

“Through Trees for Schools we’re committed to providing one million trees to primary schools in England, creating inspiring learning spaces and improving the environment for the next generation.”

Woodland Trust schools and community engagement manager Karen Letten said:

“More and more teachers are seeing the benefits of taking the classroom outdoors. Thousands of teachers apply for our free tree packs each year but they don’t always have an appreciation of the number or type they need for the available space. The new online resource can remedy that while at the same time engaging the whole class in the process, letting them mix mud and maths or planting and poetry.”  

Primary age children who take part in tree planting remember it as a significant experience (Photo: Philip Formby / WTML)
Primary age children who take part in tree planting remember it as a significant experience (Photo: Philip Formby / WTML)

Tree Tools For Schools has already had top marks from a number of teachers who have trialled it for the Trust.

Sarah Boddington, of All Saints CofE Primary School and Nursery, Wellingborough, said:

“I found the site engaging, colourful and easy to navigate. The planning planter is a wonderful idea to involve children and explore their ideas for their school. I would use all of the resources that have been included, using many of them to guide my lesson planning.”

Ailsa Metcalf, of Spotland Primary School, Rochdale, said:

“I really liked the tool and could see staff using it with children as part of science lessons or as part of our gardening club sessions. Our outdoor team will find it helpful when they come to tree plant with the children. The language used is good. We have many pupils for whom English is an additional language and although the tool uses technically specific language related to the topic it is used well in context and can be easily explained to the children or researched for themselves.”

Keith Sullivan, from Halton Community Combined School, Aylesbury, said:

“I was very impressed with the quality. There’s a good selection of activities and the “planting your school” and “life of a tree” sections are a particularly good mix of interaction and information.”

Since the Woodland Trust launched its free trees for schools initiative in 2004, more than five million saplings have been sent out.

Research commissioned by the Woodland Trust1 shows that primary age children who take part in tree planting remember it as a significant experience, even into their teenage years; by planting trees they felt that they were ‘doing their bit’ to help the natural environment. 

In 2016, a large scale Natural Connections study2 delivered by Plymouth University and funded by Defra, Natural England and Historic England concluded that outdoor learning benefits both children and teachers. 92% of teachers surveyed said that pupils were more engaged with learning when outdoors and 85% saw a positive impact on their behaviour. 

The study also found teachers were more motivated with 79% reporting positive impacts on their teaching practice. Almost 70% said that outdoor learning had a positive impact on their job satisfaction and a similar number reported improved health and well-being.

Name that leaf!

The Trust needs help christening the leafy mascot (pictured) that guides pupils and teachers through the fun interactive activities, and is asking children across the UK, from Reception to Year 9, to come up with a suitable name.

If your pupils have a great idea for the name of the mascot, email schools@woodlandtrust.org.uk by 23.59 on Sunday 1 July.

The winning class will get a Woodland Trust goody bag while their school will get an iPad.

In the event of multiple entries being submitted for the name the Woodland Trust chooses, a winner will be picked at random.

Tree Tools for Schools can be found at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/schools

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Notes to editors

Media inquiries only to Dee Smith on 01476 581121 or deesmith@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:  i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

Free trees

The Trust gives away thousands of free trees to UK schools and community groups twice a year, in March and November, thanks to funding from Sainsbury’s, IKEA FAMILY, players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Yorkshire Tea. In addition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has supported the Trust to provide 100,000 trees a year to state funded primary schools in England over four years.

The packs contain a mix of native species such as hazel, rowan, hawthorn, common oak,  silver birch, wild cherry, elder, dogwood and holly. They come in packs of 30, 105 or 420 – enough to plant a small copse or hedgerow or to cover an area the size of a football pitch.

Applications are now open for school and community tree packs for delivery in November 2018. To order yours, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/freetrees by mid-August.

Educational Research: 

  1. Woodland Trust: Good from Woods
  2. Plymouth University: Transforming outdoor learning in schools