A NORTH-EAST school has won national recognition for its pioneering work in promoting the importance of trees in the fight against climate change.

Hummersknott Academy, in Darlington, has been awarded beacon status by The Tree Council after excelling in a project aimed at raising awareness of caring for the environment.

More than 90 UK schools applied to take part, with Hummersknott Academy being one of 20 selected to go forward.

Now, pupils are celebrating after awarded national beacon status by the organisation which champions the planting, care and conservation of trees throughout the UK.

Geography teacher Eve Sweeting, who led the project at Hummersknott, said: “Hearing that we have been selected for beacon status has left me speechless and I’m incredibly proud of the pupils’ dedication, enthusiasm and passion.

“It was clear from the start that they want to fight climate change and speak up for nature, while also improving their own well-being. It’s been humbling to see how they’ve grown in confidence by standing up and speaking about the importance of trees.”

The project involved Year 7 pupils planting five saplings, and taking part in public speaking workshops, with the support of experts from the Speakers Trust.

That led to them writing and delivering speeches about the importance of trees as part of a national competition, and the winner was Hummersknott pupil Alex Morton.

Environmental education is embedded into the curriculum, with pupils learning about deforestation in geography, and photosynthesis in science.

Through The Tree Council project, a host of additional activities were introduced, including: an online assembly; tree-related art classes; environmental displays; and a watering rota for the newly-planted saplings.

Due to be being awarded beacon status, the school will now continue to develop the project and link up with other schools to spread the word across the country.

James Keating, principal of Hummersknott Academy, said: “This was a hugely important initiative in our school and I’m immensely proud of the hard work that has gone into it during the lockdown.

“It has really fired the pupils’ passion for the environment and has been expertly led by the staff involved. I look forward to its impact growing and growing.”

* To find out more about the work of The Tree Council, go to: www.treecouncil.org.uk