What can improve your pupils’ mental health and well being, encourage physical activity, support learning, build relationships and spark creativity while having fun? Trees of course!
We’re very excited to be supporting London primary schools to sign up for free packs of trees as part of Trees for Schools – a programme funded by Defra and delivered in partnership with the Woodland Trust.
Fun and games with the Ding Dong tree
A tree does not have to be part of woodland or be ancient and grizzled to enchant children.
Meet the Ding Dong tree, voted Scotland’s Tree of the Year and finalist for Europe’s Tree of the Year. This relatively young tree in the midst of a playground is a 30 year old copper beech. It has woven itself into the life, learning and play time of Prestonpans Primary school. So great is its impact, that the head teacher describes it as “almost an extra member of staff.”
Its beautiful shady canopy provides a stimulating outdoor classroom for many science and art projects. It’s the children who named the tree, inspired to invent a game of “Tig/Tag” where they compete to touch its trunk, shouting “Ding Dong!” Generations of children, have run around creating their own traditions passed down from child to child, playing the same game under its protective leafy boughs. They’ve had their imaginations set free in the fresh air, gained knowledge and loved it!
We believe that all children should have the opportunity to plant and learn about trees, but understand that this can be a challenge in London.
However, with Trees for Schools, school children in the capital can have quality time in the green outdoors too. By working with the Woodland Trust, Defra and the Department for Education, schools across London can enjoy the benefits of planting trees and greening their outside space for pupils.
Studies show that spending time in nature soothes mental health and can help improve children’s concentration. It can be of even more benefit to special educational needs (SEN) students or those with challenging behaviour.
The Woodland Trust suggests that one of the primary barriers to children having access to forests is distance, as travelling time and expense can outweigh the benefits of the visit. Planting trees in urban areas and on urban fringes makes visiting woods more accessible, allowing more children to access these vitally important green spaces. As such, these urban forests can have a lasting impact on the children (and adults) who visit them.
Mr Chris Beazeley Head teacher of Griffin Primary School says:
Our school is in an urban area, and many of our children won’t have the opportunity to visit parks, or woods, or get up close to nature. By planting trees at school we can give them that experience; and teach lessons in an engaging way.
Hundreds of London schools have already ordered their free tree packs and created mini-woodlands or hedgerows, and it’s really easy for your school to join them. Sign up to get your very own Ding Dong tree now!
In the meantime, take a look at this video with a handful helpful hints on how to get going with the tree planting: