PUPILS at All Saints Primary in Otley enjoyed a Wonderful Wildlife Day on Tuesday, July 12.

Working with Neil Griffin from Wildlife Friendly Otley, the school’s Global Champions committee and teacher Vicki Binks devised a programme to focus students from nursery to Year 6 on the delights of nature. The day featured activities that were scientific, creative and supportive of local wildlife.

Children and staff dressed in wildlife costumes, with the emphasis on home-made and sustainable outfits rather than shop-bought. Children were also invited to bring in their favourite animal book.

Neil led an assembly to explain the aim of Wildlife Friendly Otley, which is to make Otley the UK’s first wildlife-friendly town. He talked about worrying developments, such as the decline of the hedgehog and bee populations, but also environmental success stories such as the re-introduction of Red Kites and the return of otters to the river Wharfe.

The children then took part in a varied programme. Different classes created different things to support animals and plants in the school grounds, including bug houses, and bird feeders such as “bird kebabs”. Year 6 did some planting in the nature area to the north of the school building, and also made some seed bombs – balls of clay, compost and seed - to spread wildflowers.

Children throughout the school used air-drying clay to make model animals, and some started to prepare their entries into the Otley Wildlife Arts Festival competition. Year 2 practised the ancient Japanese art of hapa zome: using hammers to print leaf dye onto fabric.

Neil worked with Year 5, mapping the different habitats to be found in the school ground, and identifying which ones were absent or could be enhanced. He then moved on to Year 4, who went looking for wildlife around school, armed with magnifying glasses, magnifying pots and butterfly nets funded by Wharfedale Naturalists Society. In the afternoon, he organised wildlife-related games for Year 2 and Year 1 to play.

Neil was not the only visitor to school. Catherine Mason and a colleague from the Yorkshire Dales River Trust gave the children chance to study creatures found in the river Wharfe in Otley. Diane Cook from the Prickly Pigs Rescue Centre taught the children more about hedgehogs. Councillor Mick Bradley and Otley Walking Festival’s Stuart Fildes got Year 5 to help devise a family nature walk along the old railway line. It will be featured in a leaflet of walks, and the children managed to fit in a litter-pick as well. Year 10 students from Prince Henry’s helped out across the school as part of their Timanyane Day, when they work with a range of organisations in the community.