Pupils have demonstrated how to put the planet first after wowing the judges at the finals of a national environmental contest.

Students from Heath Park School and Colton Hills Community School made the grade in this year's Solutions for the Planet competition, which encourages 11 to 14 year olds to come up with Big Ideas to solve sustainability issues that matter to them.

And Heath Park pupils came second overall with their Planet Helpers scheme, to produce eco-friendly dog toys from waste papier-mâché.

Judges were impressed by their presentation and the fact they had produced prototypes which they demonstrated with the help of a dog.

The school was also highly commended for a second Big Idea, Panthers, designed to prevent food waste. They enlisted the help of Dicky Dodd to produce a radio advert highlighting the problem, and proposed a website showing how people could cut down on food waste.

Meanwhile, Colton Hills students came third with their Big Idea to develop a Window Applicable Solar Panel, an adhesive solar panel which could be resized to fit any window.

Heath Park Executive Headteacher Georgetta Holloway OBE said: "We take part in Solutions for the Planet every year as it's a great opportunity for students to come up with possible solutions to some of the problems our planet faces.

"We got nine teams through to this year's regional final and thanks to the brilliant efforts of our pupils two teams, both Year 7 Integrated Studies students, made the national finals. We are really proud of them and they are really keen to take their ideas forward – indeed there's already been interest within the school community for the Planet Helpers dog toys.”

Teacher Jas Perrin said: "I am really pleased and proud of the determination and commitment of our Year 7s, both within school and during lockdown. They are so mature for their age and the fact they were able to produce work of such high standard is a credit to them all.”

Mrs Holloway added: "The competition has been even more challenging this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Normally, representatives from Solutions for the Planet would come into school to deliver sessions, but that's not been possible this time. Students have also had to do much of their work from home, so it's a real credit to them and our staff that they've delivered such impressive ideas."

Harold Mututa, Black Country AIM for GOLD Programme Manager, was a judge for the England Central and South West Regional Final. He said: "The ideas put forward by the students were extremely good, exciting and innovative.

"Their presentations to the judges were very good and they answered the questions well. It certainly made one feel that the future is safe with the younger generation."

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "I would like to congratulate students from Heath Park and Colton Hills for excelling in this year's competition, which not only gets young people to think about the future of their planet, but also helps them develop important skills such as project management and developing business plans."