Pupils from Swindon Academy donned gloves and litter picks yesterday, heading out to complete a litter pick around Pinehurst.

210 students from year seven took part in the community clear up as part of a week-long events programme at the school.

Lorraine Jordan, vice principal who is leading the project said: “This is an opportunity for the community to see the young people in action and bring the community together so that students have a better awareness of the importance of looking after their community, and the community see the young people doing something of value."

Schoolchildren joined the Neighbourhood Wardens, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service, EnviroCrime, and the local police to clean up different areas around Pinehurst.

“The idea came from wanting to encourage more young people to engage with their local communities," said Simon Halls, pioneer minister with the Church of England who helped organise the week. "We wanted to link everything around acts of kindness in the community to help inspire young people to care for their community."

The annual activities week has been running for roughly eight years and is based around the concept of ‘pay it forward’, encouraging students to repay acts of kindness to other people instead of the original benefactor.

Further events planned include creating plant pots to donate to a local care home, gardening for nearby residents and a community lunch at St Peters Church on Thursday, among others.

"It’s massively important to do things like this,” added Ms Georgina Yule, who teaches Humanities and was taking part in the litter pick. “It helps students think more about the impact they have on the world and their attitude towards the environment. When they can see all the rubbish here, it helps them understand that it might just be one can they leave on the ground, but that actually impacts everyone.”

Leland Pullen, 11, who was collecting rubbish said: “Lots of people like to throw litter but having to pick it all up makes you think about the effects of dropping it."

“It’s important to do things like this, for the earth,” added Junal Azavedo, 12. “If the earth is clean, then we are also able to stay clean,” he added.

The pair had been busy collecting cans, hoping to win the challenge of collecting the most rubbish. Other challenges including finding the strangest item, with a bicycle wheel, and a mouldy potato in a plastic bag contending for the top spot.

“It just goes to show that we live in a society where people think it is acceptable to throw litter. It makes you feel disappointed that there is so much around," added Ellie Louise McCusker, 12. “I will definitely think again before dropping litter now. People need to be independent enough not to expect others to pick up after themselves.”