YOUNGSTERS were allowed to sleep out under the stars in their school grounds as part of a festival-style sleepover.

Kempsey Primary School pupils spent one or two nights camping at school after teachers decided it was something all pupils should experience in their lives.

There were 85 pupils aged seven to 11 who spent two nights under canvas on the playground as part of the Glastonbury-inspired Kempsey Fest.

Another 50 children aged between five and seven spent just one night enjoying the experience.

Bryony Baynes, the Ellsdon school’s headteacher, said: “As a school we have something called a bucket list.

“We’ve drawn up a list of experiences we wanted all the children in school to have before they leave us.

“Things like going to the theatre, playing in the rain, visiting different places of worship.

“On the list was, ‘have a sleep out at school’.

“It was nothing to do with me but the staff got together and planned it.”

The school went all out to make the event an exciting experience for pupils, giving them Kempsey Fest wristbands and letting them set up a footpath marked with lanterns.

The pupils first slept out last Thursday evening, enjoying a cookie decorating competition before drinking hot chocolate and eating biscuits around a camp fire.

The youngsters then spent Friday enjoying festival-type activities including a circus-skills workshop, a drum workshop and listened to a band.

Mrs Baynes said: “As part of Kempsey Fest the children designed their own t-shirts to wear; they went into Forest School to play and had a campfire where they roasted marshmallows and they made lanterns to “decorate” the campsite after dark.”

Older pupils camped in the school grounds for a second night with Mrs Baynes providing a cooked meal for all there.

Mrs Baynes said: “I feel very strongly that a lot of experiences I took for granted growing up, riding a bike around the neighbourhood, jumping into a stream, children today don’t get.

“We just wanted to make sure that school was about more than just the curriculum.

“It was about a rich experience and an understanding of all the various things the world has to offer.

“Children don’t often get the experience to sleep in a tent, with their mates, in a school playground.

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Mrs Baynes thanked staff, including Louisa Sandy, for their hard work in creating the festival which she said the children had really enjoyed.