CHILDREN from a Darlington junior school cooked up a treat when they got to grips with a challenge to create "healthy" pizzas.

Year five pupils from Mowden junior school were given the task of designing healthy pizza toppings as part of a combined design technology, science, health education and citizenship project.

Having come up with toppings ranging from pineapple, ham and peppers to mango and baked beans, the 63 nine- and ten-year-olds were given the chance to turn their ideas into reality by the Pizza Express restaurant in Skinnergate.

The project was organised by teachers Mrs Helen Taylor and Miss Kathryn Shaw, who took the children to Pizza Express in groups over four weeks.

Mrs Taylor said: "Though it may seem a crazy idea to try to create a healthy pizza, we wanted to emphasise the importance of a balanced diet.

"The children put a lot of thought and effort into creating their designs, which not only had to use healthy ingredients but had to look good, too."

The most popular designs featured smiley faces and the school emblem, the letters MJS in the shape of a person.

The restaurant provided all the ingredients free of charge and showed the children round the kitchens and dining area before teaching them how to make pizza bases from dough.

Each child was allowed to take home his or her ten-inch pizzas in a take-away box and received paper chef's hats from the restaurant as a souvenir.

The restaurant organised a competition for the best design, won by Christopher Jones. He won a £30 voucher to spend at Pizza Express and had the added bonus of seeing his creation go on to the menu.

Called Pizza la Christopher, it features a chicken, egg and pineapple topping and will be on sale at the restaurant until the end of next week. All proceeds from the sale of the pizza will be shared between the British Heart Foundation and Mowden junior school