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Be a Force For Nature!

This page has everything you need to plan an amazing Young Tree Champion project for your school, including an introductory webinar, feedback from schools, project tools our Application Guidance and FAQs.

The application form is remaining open until 6pm on the 1st February 2023

This programme is only open to new schools who have not previously applied to deliver a Project.

Apply now!

What is a Young Tree Champion project?

Young Tree Champions is a free nature programme that helps schools launch their own planet-saving project. We offer everything you need to get started, including free carbon-busting trees or hedgerow whips, training to develop your pupils’ confidence and oratory skills, teacher webinars, and a microscope camera and range of online resources to support nature-based learning.

“Our students have loved extra time outside and I do believe their mental health has benefitted. They are now more engaged in environmental issues and want to do something to help.”

- YTC Beacon School Lead.

Available project resources

Through the support of our partners M&G plc, we are able to offer an exciting package of free project resources to help your Young Tree Champions be a Force For Nature. Available resources include:

  • A choice of beautiful trees (packs contain fruit trees, broadleaf trees, orchard trees or hedgerow whips)
  • A tech bundle including a microscope camera (x1000 magnification and video recorder/timelapse) and mic for recording speeches, interviews etc
  • Speakers Trust teacher training and pupil workshop (selected schools only)

Helpful project application tools

Make a start by reading our project application guidance where you can find lots of top-tips and suggestions to help you plan a brilliant project. Use our questionnaire template, to help define what matters most to your Young Tree Champions. Once you’ve agreed what matters most, use our action plan template (see an example action plan here) to plan your project before completing the project application form.

We realise the pressure teachers and schools are under so have decided to keep the application form open until 6pm on the 1st February  for schools that are completing their application form or missed the deadline. 

Learn more about the programme

Learn about the programme

Introductory Webinar

Watch our introductory webinar to find out what The Tree Council’s Young Tree Champions programme is all about.

The webinar contains top tips on how you can plan and develop an amazing nature project in your school, including how to complete your application, how to make use of the resources, workshops available to your pupils and in-the-know info from one of our experienced and highly successful Beacon Schools.

Sign up!

Hear teachers’ experience

Programme Impact

Watch our short evaluation video from Young Tree Champion National Beacon Schools talking about the impact the Young Tree Champion project has had on their students and school as a whole.

Project Application Form

Before you start this application, we suggest you carefully read our application guidance as this will provide all the information and advice you need to plan your project and complete the application form. We also advise you read our FAQs. Don’t forget to save as you go.

Apply now!

Becoming a National Beacon School

Beacon Schools are schools that have gone the extra mile to complete the 5 steps to becoming a Beacon School. Not only do Beacons deliver a Young Tree Champion Project, but also show a commitment to continuing to build on these connections to nature and learning opportunities. To achieve Beacon School status your school needs to demonstrate, in your project self-assessment form (completed at the end of your project) and through posts on your club space, that your school has delivered a whole school project, across the curriculum (connecting, learning, caring and sharing activities), on campus (planting trees, learning outdoors) and in your school community (events, newsletters).

In return for their commitment, Beacons are able to apply for additional nature-enhancing trees and whips, receive more innovative technology to aid learning, host workshops led by The Tree Council staff and ambassadors and access additional training. Beacons also steer our national programme and share their expertise by delivering training locally and online, as well as engaging and supporting other schools locally.

The latest Beacon Schools will be announced and awarded at the Force For Nature celebration event on 15 June 2023.

Read a Beacon School case study here

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my school be involved in the YTC programme without ordering trees?

Yes – we will provide plenty of other resources and ways for your Young Tree Champions to connect, learn and share the power of trees.

Do I need to recruit my Young Tree Champions, to help me complete the application form?

It would be useful to have recruited your Young Tree Champions, as your students will have great ideas for what you might do and any themes you may wish to focus on as a group, they are the project’s driving Force For Nature.

  • Engage with existing eco-club, student council, forest school or gardening club and put your project on the agenda
  • Recruit a cool young tree champion club from scratch
  • Use this Young Tree Champion questionnaire to help decide what matters most to your Young Tree Champions and select a tree theme
  • Discuss ideas for your activities to connect, learn, care and share within your project, and complete an action plan. You can then use this to complete the application form. You can find an example action plan here.

Do I need landowner permission to plant my trees?

Yes, this is really important! Please make sure you have written permission from the landowner for the proposed location to plant the trees before completing the application form. It may be worth checking your school improvement plan for any new proposed developments onsite.

How big will the trees become and how much space will they need to thrive?

The trees have been carefully selected according to their size when mature. You have a choice of Tree Packs – Container Tree Pack, Broadleaf Tree Pack, Orchard Tree Pack and Hedgerow Pack.

  • Container Fruit Tree Pack: trees will grow to 2-3m and need to be planted between 3-5m apart or can be planted in a container
  • Broadleaf Tree Pack: trees will grow to 6m and need to be planted 5-8m apart
  • Orchard Tree Pack: trees will grow to 3-4m and need to be planted 3m apart
  • Hedgerow Pack: this contains 90 hedgerow whips. Each pack will equate to a hedgerow 15-18m in length and need to be planted between 15-20cm apart

Please note: It is not possible to select specific species from the list to create a bespoke pack.

Plant your trees where they can receive lots of sunlight and where the drainage is good. Also consider a location that is accessible to all and allows you to water your young trees and saplings regularly and easily in the first 2-3 years (eg. near an outdoor tap).

You can find out more information in our detailed planning and planting guide.

What exactly does a tree pack contain?

You can select one of the following tree packs:

  • Container Fruit Tree Pack
  • Broadleaf Tree Pack
  • Orchard Tree Pack
  • Hedgerow Pack

Your choice will be based on the area you have available to plant your trees.

Each tree pack (Container, Broadleaf and Orchard) consists of five mixed trees. The trees will be between 1 and 2 years old (approx. 1 – 1.5m tall) and will arrive ‘bare-rooted’ ready for immediately planting out. Your pack will include stakes, wire guards and hessian ties to support the tree for the first 2-3 years of its life.

Each hedgerow pack contains 90 hedgerow whips. Each whip is approximately 1m high and will arrive ‘bare-rooted’ ready for immediately planting out. Each pack will contain a combination of native hedgerow whips. There are no nut producing plants in any of the packs. (Hedgerow packs do not include stakes, wire guards or hessian ties.)

Further information on planting and caring for your trees will be shared through webinars and a planting and care guidance document.

The trees are perfect for creating a tree trail but you may wish to use them in other ways to support the delivery of your project – for example, to create a wildlife-friendly area or woodland classroom to support your project.

Our school doesn’t have any green space – can we plant the trees in pots?

Our Container Tree Pack consists of small trees which will grow to between 5 – 10m tall and are suitable for planting in containers. Each container must be at least 1 metre x 1 metre x 1 metre. Pots should have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent roots becoming waterlogged if overwatered or due to rain.

It’s important to bear in mind that trees in containers will need extra care, especially with watering during the spring and summer.

You can find out more information in our detailed planning and planting guide.

How do we keep our trees alive and healthy in the longer term?

When your tree pack arrives, you will need get them into the ground straight away and give them a good water – they’ll be thirsty from their journey! Make sure you use the stakes, ties and guards to help protect your young trees from rabbits and strong winds. You will be provided with detailed instructions on how to plant and care for your trees through our webinar (Tuesday 8 February) and our detailed planning and planting guide.

Your Young Tree Champions will need to water the newly-planted trees for the first two years (roughly 20 litres of water per tree per week), especially when the weather is dry and during the Easter and summer holidays. Consider consulting a local volunteer Tree Warden to help provide advice and expertise on caring for your trees.

We will be running a webinar to support you planting and caring for your trees on Tuesday 8 February.

How much time will my Young Tree Champion project take to deliver?

This project can be as big as you want to make it! We estimate that a lead teacher will typically need to allocate 4 to 6 days throughout the spring and summer terms to deliver the project from application to completion, this depends upon the amount of support they receive.

It’s important that senior management allocate time to an enthusiastic member of staff to lead the project (LSA, teacher). The lead contact will need to complete the application process, recruit the Young Tree Champions and make sure there is a plan of activities in place to plant, connect, learn, care for and share the power of trees.

Compared to growing annual plants like tomatoes and salads, your trees will require much less annual care once the trees are established. However there is more to do in the first few years in order to get them established; they’ll need to be watered regularly, weeded, mulched and guarded for the first three years.

What do the virtual resource kits contain?

Young Tree Champion virtual resource kits provide your young people with amazing materials with which to interact with the world of trees. The kit is designed to help you create an interactive trail, explore the science and wonder of your new or existing trees on your grounds and record a podcast to speak up for trees.

You will receive a microscope camera a lapel mic and a link to virtual resources such as tree ID.

When will I receive my Tree Pack?

Deliveries will be completed by late February. Schools will be notified at least a week in advance of a delivery.

What is a Speaking Up workshop led by Speakers Trust?

A Speaking Up workshop led by Speakers Trust involves a teacher training workshop and a pupil workshop. They will be offered to a selection of this year’s Young Tree Champion schools.

  • Teacher training workshops are designed to inspire teachers to develop oracy within the curriculum and will include breakout sessions to facilitate questions. The session will take place online and help to prepare teachers for their day of pupil workshops.
  • Pupil workshops comprise an all-day session engaging the pupils in vocalising their personal journey to becoming a Force For Nature. These sessions will be tailored for your school and can be delivered to a club group or whole class (up to 32 pupils). Speakers Trust will contact schools directly to arrange timings and to tailor the sessions. These sessions will take place between March and May.

When will the Speaking Up workshops led by Speakers Trust take place?

The teacher training workshop dates are to be confirmed. This workshop will be up to two hours.

The whole day pupil workshops will be arranged with the selected school between March and May.

What is a 'Beacon' School?

Beacon Schools are determined once you have successfully completed your project and submitted a project self-assessment form. To achieve Beacon School status your school needs to demonstrate in your self-assessment and posts on your club space that you are excelling in connecting, learning and sharing the power of trees and nature both in school and at a national level (by being active on your club account). Beacon School status will be awarded at the Force For Nature festival on 15 June 2023. We also look to award two Outstanding Beacons Schools, who have gone the extra mile to be a Force For Nature – these schools receive a voucher for £200 to use for a trip or resources for their project.

Once you have achieved Beacon School status you become part of an exclusive club of schools who support the shaping and development of the Young Tree Champion programme at a national level. Opportunities include trialling new technology, applying for more tree packs and working with wider partners to develop bespoke workshops. Beacon Schools have the opportunity to deliver training for other schools and apply to receive in-school workshops and visits from our ambassadors.

Thank you to our programme partner M&G plc

The Tree Council are working in partnership with M&G plc, the savings and investment company that truly understands the value of trees in fighting climate change. By inspiring young people to become Young Tree Champions, we hope to help create a healthier future, for the environment and each other. We are incredibly grateful to M&G plc for their fantastic support which will enable us to reach some of the most underserved communities in Britain and inspire them to be a #ForceForNature