From the Oak to Mountain Ash, one million trees will be grown by schoolchildren as part of the government’s green-fingered commitment to plant 11 million over the next parliament.

The first phase of the scheme was launched by environment secretary Elizabeth Truss at Elmhurst Primary School today.

In partnership with The Woodland Trust, the project will initially be open to 7,000 state-funded primary schools in England, which will receive native British trees including cherry, silver birch, hawthorn and hazel.

The government hopes the project will support the new national curriculum to ensure children can identify iconic trees like the Oak, as well as inspiring the next generation to understand the benefits of a healthy environment “for our prosperity and wellbeing”.

Ms Truss said: “Already we have more tree cover in the UK than at any time since the 14th century, but it’s vital that young schoolchildren feel a part of this natural history and connected to the environment.

“This is a great opportunity to get them involved and I want to see as many schools as possible take up this offer so pupils can enjoy the experience of growing a tree and creating green spaces.”

Children from participating schools will be given the opportunity to learn about different types of trees before planting saplings in their school grounds, local parks or open spaces – with an opportunity to monitor their growth.

Schools minister Nick Gibb added: “As part of our plan to extend opportunity to all young people, we want children to leave school with a wider knowledge of the world around them – as well as strong academic qualifications.

“The new primary curriculum requires children to be taught to identify a wide variety of plants and trees in their first years of school. Defra’s [Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs] tree planting initiative will provide schools with real life examples of a number of species of tree and how they are planted and grown.”

Click here to apply for a school tree pack.

Pic: Elizabeth Truss helping to plant trees at Elmhurst Primary School

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