LOCAL charity, Lightfoot Enterprises, and the Community College, Bishop's Castle, have been working together to introduce pupils to the delights of woodlands.

As part of the college's enrichment programme, a group of Year 7 pupils have been going down to the woods to experience the richness and diversity of the woodland environment, finding out how to conserve the landscape and how to manage and utilise woodlands sustainably.

The programme started on a sunny June day with a taster day where around 80 pupils - all of Year 7 and some of Year 8 - were busy doing woodland activities on the school field and in the grounds of the SpArC centre. One activity was learning 'How to Safely Fell and Tidy' a small tree using bow-saws and loppers. The pupils worked in small teams and were instructed by Gary Cowell. Another activity was 'Wildlife Roleplay' with Jenny Ogden where young people took on the identity of pollinating insects with large and very beautiful models. The third activity was 'An Eye for Detail' with Toni Pettitt who sent the young people searching for specific trees and plants she had given clues for in mysterious little paper bags.

The autumn programme has seen the pupils out and about at Bury Ditches, with Alan Reid and Nicola Cowell of the Forestry Commission, learning to identify what animals are living in the woods by the signs they leave behind. John Hughes of Shropshire wildlife Trust took the pupils on a fungi foray to find and identify a range of species and the taster day activities were all repeated with different pupils. The programme comes to a close just before Christmas with Gary Cowell leading the pupils in den building at The Hurst, in Clunton.

The feedback from the pupils has been really positive with comments including "I really enjoyed being outside and from my point of view more learning should be done outside" and "The best thing today was learning how to cut a tree in the direction you want it to fall. It was fun when we used the tools to cut the smaller branches. The funniest thing was watching the others wearing flower hats and bee hats!"

The project is supported by the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Conservation Fund and thanks are due to Helen Plastow and the other staff from the community college.