Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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HomeEducationNetwork Rail partners with West Midlands high school to promote biodiversity

Network Rail partners with West Midlands high school to promote biodiversity

Network Rail’s Lord Peter Hendy and Central Route Director Denise Wetton have joined staff and students from Woodrush Academy and The Tree Council to plant new trees in the school’s grounds.

The event took place as part of a new collaborative partnership between Network Rail’s Central route (which covers the West Midlands and Chiltern main line into London) and the local high school and Tree Council. The partnership aims to support local wildlife and encourage students to consider pursuing a career in rail – the country’s greenest form of public transport.

The Tree Council has been working with Woodrush Academy, which provides secondary education for students at Wythall. The High School draws students from North East Worcestershire, Solihull and Birmingham. Since 2023, as part of a broader partnership with local groups, businesses, and West Midlands Railway, Network Rail staff have volunteered their time to assist students in developing the school’s grounds and introduce hundreds of new trees and plants, which will help to promote biodiversity and allow local wildlife to thrive.

It’s hoped that Network Rail’s ongoing partnership with Woodrush Academy, West Midlands Railway, and local railway volunteers known as the Friends of the Shakespeare Line will inspire students about the different roles available in the railway industry and provide a pathway for pupils to apply for the Network Rail apprenticeship scheme.

Peter, Lord Hendy, chair of Network Rail, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see our partnership with Woodrush Academy blossoming and the great work with The Tree Council, which is helping to transform the school’s outdoor spaces.

“Communities and the environment are at the heart of our railway, so it’s brilliant to see our collaboration with Woodrush, West Midlands Railway and local partners. We hope to help inspire pupils to learn about horticulture, and also about the varied and rewarding roles available on our railway; the country’s greenest form of public transport.”

Jay Barber, head teacher at Woodrush Academy, said: “We have been delighted to have forged such a strong collaborative partnership with Network Rail over this last couple of years. Woodrush is deeply committed to ensuring our students learn about our community and Network Rail has been the active ingredient to enhancing our curriculum for the young people we serve.

“From developing local public spaces to learning about horticulture and sustainability, our relationship with Network Rail will truly leave a legacy on the lives and learning of our students.”

Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director at West Midlands Railway, said: “The railway is an important aspect of every community so the planting of hundreds of new trees and plants at Woodrush Academy shows how industry collaboration can go a long way to enhancing schools and local areas.

“Partnerships like this are also crucial for encouraging young people to consider a career in rail and I hope the collaboration enables students to gain some valuable insight about the industry.”

Phil Paulo, head of major tree planting projects for The Tree Council, said: “We’re really looking forward to providing ongoing support to the team and pupils at Woodrush High School following this year’s initial planting project which was delivered with support from Network Rail and West Midlands Trains.

“Planting delivered by students and volunteers from Network Rail, has helped to diversify and extend the canopy cover in the grounds through the creation of a new shelterbelt including species such as Hornbeam, Birch, Crab Apple and ornamental Dogwoods, enhancing both the biodiversity and amenity value of the grounds.”

The Tree Council is also assisting the school to develop community tree growing with the creation of willow beds, which as well as helping to prevent water-logging, will provide a resource from which pupils can propagate their own trees while working towards achieving an accredited horticultural qualification.

Students have started propagating apple trees while developing their skills, which will be grown in a new polytunnel. When ready, the apples will be given out at Wythall railway station as part of a ‘Rail Roots’ project which is piloting nationally at a number of stations this year.

The ‘Rail Roots’ project provides a great way to engage members of the public with the main benefits of tree growing in their local areas, while also increasing biodiversity and canopy cover for local wildlife and creating greener, healthier spaces for the public to enjoy.

This year, staff from Network Rail’s Central route will continue working with Woodrush Academy, offering students local work experience placements, as well as CV writing and interview skills sessions.

To find out more details about Network Rail’s apprenticeship scheme visit https://www.networkrail.co.uk/careers/early-careers/apprenticeships/level-3-operations-apprenticeship/

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