The Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss launched the first phase of the scheme, which will provide up to 45,000 native British trees for schools, at Elmhurst Primary School in Newham, London, last week.
Working together with The Woodland Trust, the project will initially be open to 7,000 state-funded primary schools in England, which will receive native trees including cherry, silver birch, hawthorn and hazel. This follows the government’s planting of 11 million trees since 2010.
The tree packs are available from the Woodland Trust and contain 30 young trees, supplied in spring 2016.
Calling on schools to take part in the project Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "From the Oak to the Mountain Ash, our fantastic native trees are crucial to our growing economy and a healthy, natural environment.
"Already we have more tree cover in the UK than at any time since the 14th Century, but it’s vital that young school children feel a part of this natural history and connected to the environment.
"This is a great opportunity to get them involved and I want to see as many schools as possible take up this offer so pupils can enjoy the experience of growing a tree and creating green spaces."
Schools Minister Nick Gibb added: "As part of our plan to extend opportunity to all young people, we want children to leave school with a wider knowledge of the world around them – as well as strong academic qualifications.
"The new primary curriculum requires children to be taught to identify a wide variety of plants and trees in their first years of school. Defra’s tree planting initiative will provide schools with real life examples of a number of species of tree and how they are planted and grown.
Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight said: "These children might never otherwise get a chance to plant a tree, but with this additional funding from Defra they’re going to get that chance. And that’s vitally important. We know from our research it’s a memory they’ll treasure for years to come, and often starts their relationship off with the natural world and all the benefits that brings.
"This scheme offers schools that have found it hard in the past a new way to plant trees and bring an oasis of green into their community.
"By offering the potential to extend the scheme in years to come, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss is also showing her department’s recognition of the intrinsic value of trees and nature to young people and their future."
The school tree planting project will build on the Woodland Trust’s existing work to plant trees in schools and further afield via its Community & Schools Tree Packs, which have delivered 5.9 million new trees since 2010.
This pilot is in addition to the government’s existing pledge to plant a further 11 million trees before 2020 through the Rural Development Programme for England. A total of £31m per year of new Rural Development Programme funding will be spent on forestry, with £13m being spent on woodland management and £18m on new planting.