REECE Lucas and his schoolmates love exploring woodland at their Elland school.

And now the Year 5 pupil at Cross Lane Primary School and his chums can explore to their hearts content after his grandad, Alan, donated £10,000 to the school’s woodland project.

And it’s already delivering benefits to the children with more to come, says headteacher Ian Pilkington.

Reece has a disability which means he walks with a frame, but it’s not held him back from getting involved in the school’s woodland project.

Mr Pilkington explained: “We have about a hectare of woodland as part of the school grounds and we’ve been developing it for the last four or five years.

“Reece has a disability and his grandfather very generously donated £10,000 to allow us to finish the project, which is just fantastic.

“It’s meant we’ve been able to make the woodland safe for the children, lay paths and means Reece and the rest of the school can access the woodland.”

The school was already making the woodland suitable as a teaching resource for its 330 nursery and primary school pupils.

But the heavy work, such as the felling and path-laying was taking a while to complete – until the generous donation.

Mr Pilkington, whose teacher training was in environmental science, added: “It’s also meant we’ve been able to lay recycled plastic decking and furniture for the children to use.

“We have an eco-council which the pupils are involved in and they tell us what they’d like. Reece is part of that too and we’ve had great feedback from it.

“The eco-council has been involved in things like weeding and removing old plants and it has been a great way to get the children involved.

“We encourage them to use the woodland in and out of class and they’re keeping journals of the changing seasons in the woodland.”

The school has been supported by Stella Nelson, a member of its support staff who is doing a degree and is interested in forestry in schools. The Calderdale Countryside team have also worked closely with the Elland school, while Mr Pilkington has visited other schools, including one in Slaithwaite, to see how woodland is incorporated into school life.

“We’ve got the big work done, but there’s still plenty of more ideas which will get the children involved,” he added.

“Some teachers are new to the theme so we’re creating teaching packs to allow teachers to use the woodland in their own classes.

“There’s also plans for building bird boxes, watching the birds and monitoring wildlife visiting the woodland. We’ve already had deer, foxes, woodpeckers and sparrowhawks spotted.”

Children at neighbouring schools, including Elland Church of England Primary School, can use the woodland and the school is hoping to hold an open weekend for local families to learn more.

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