The John Bentley School, Calne, has become the fourth school in the south west to win a prestigious environmental award, thanks to the efforts of green-fingered students.

The school was awarded Green Flag accreditation after an inspection last term as part of the Eco-Schools programme, managed by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

The Bentley School Eco Team (BEST) was formed last year to start working towards the award.

The group, which has been running as a lunchtime club, works with environmental groups in the area, including the Calne Environmental Network and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, to improve the school’s green status.

After registering for the scheme, the group followed a seven-step process which challenged them to address several environmental themes, from litter and waste to healthy living.

During this time they have introduced recycling for the whole school, a greenhouse area just outside the canteen and a bird box. In the greenhouse, pupils have grown tomato plants, cucumbers, flowers and pumpkins.

Nia Blake, the cover supervisor for John Bentley, organises BEST and said the project was extremely popular with pupils at the school.

She said: “The assessor came the second from last week of term. She spoke to the group and asked them questions. They showed her round the site, were full of enthusiasm and I think that shone through in the report.”

In her report, the inspector said: “The students in the BEST team were enthusiastic and articulate. I was particularly impressed with how they were full of plans for the future, and realistic about the challenges of involving as many students as possible in events and campaigns.”

Before Mrs Blake joined the school, she had her own business selling environmentally friendly children’s party bags.

She has organised the project since it started and now aims to go to other schools in the area to encourage them to work towards a Green Flag award themselves.

She said: “The environment is something that’s important to me and that’s one of things that drove me to do the project. It’s so much of an achievement.

“It’s quite hard for secondary schools to work through and get the Green Flags, so I’m really pleased.

“We’ve got our core people that keep the group going, and we’re hoping to recruit a few more Year 7s this term.

“We’ve had some boys in Year 9 stay with us since they were in Year 7.”