Oundle pupils' virtual transcontinental trek inspires lockdown learning journey

The pupils of Laxton Junior School in Oundle earn kilometres by completing tasks

Pupils and staff at an Oundle school have been recognised nationally for their school-wide lockdown challenge - to travel coast to coast across Africa, virtually.

Laxton Junior School students took up the Great Green Wall House Challenge, to 'trek' 8,000km, the length of an ambitious tree-planting programme by clocking-up kilometres travelled with distance-earning tasks.

Now Eco-Schools England has praised the initiative with the intrepid youngsters to feature as an example of best practice on the organistation's website.

Laxton Junior School pupils take part in their ‘Great Green Wall House Challenge

Simon Marsden, eco co-ordinator at Laxton Junior School, said, “We are delighted Great Green Wall House Challenge was spotted and featuring us on a whole page of the Eco-Schools website.

"It has been an ideal opportunity to get not just the children involved in an environmental and community project, but the whole parent body too, and with a brilliant response.

"This is definitely a challenge which could be easily adapted and completed outside of lockdown too.”

The Great Green Wall is an African-led project that hopes to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa and solving many urgent threats facing the global community - including climate change, drought, famine, conflict and migration.

Busy creating a bird feeder

After looking for an initiative to bring their community together, with a dose of healthy house competition during lockdown, as well as contributing positively to the wider global community, the Great Green Wall House Challenge was born.

Pupils virtually travel length of the Great Green Wall, passing through 11 countries, and learning about the geography, people, traditions and culture of each different country along the way.

Children earn kilometres by completing a range of tasks, from walking and running 5km, to cycling 10km and recycling, making bird feeders, tidying bedrooms, cooking family meals, doing the washing, building a den and designing and building a futuristic eco Lego house.

Pupils have also taken part in litter picking in their home counties but the biggest earner of kilometres has been planting a tree scoring a massive 15km for each one.

By day five of the challenge, pupils, families and staff had collectively covered over 3,000km, with fact files and activity packs for each country being released with every 500km travelled. The pupils' progress caught the eye of Lee Wray-Davies, the Eco-Schools manager for England, on social media requesting their challenge feature on the Eco-Schools website as an example of best practice.

Year 3 pupil Catrin added: “I like watching all the houses race and I am so excited to see if I can help my house, Gloucester, win.

"The Great Green Wall is important because it brings food and water and stops Africa turning into a desert and it’s good that we learn about it because we can find ways to help with planting trees in Africa and planting trees here too.

The School is continuing with the challenge as they make their way across Africa and are now hoping to achieve the Eco-Schools coveted Green Flag status.