PUPILS arriving at a York primary school today had a close encounter - when they found an alien craft crash-landed in their playground.

Youngsters starting their day at Clifton with Rawcliffe school this morning were met by police tape, a NASA investigation unit and a small silver craft billowing smoke and resting on the grass opposite the main entrance to the school.

The scenes were part of an elaborate stunt arranged as part of a day-long exercise to test the youngsters’ investigative skills and to fuel their imaginations as part of a school-wide topic looking at space, said head teacher Chris Wigley. 

The craft itself was made by three teaching assistants and the production also involved local police, The Press coming along to investigate and report on the 'crash' and a BBC cameraman in the shape of BBC Look North presenter Phil Bodmer, whose son attends the school.

Drama pupils from the nearby Canon Lee secondary school were also drafted in to play the parts of NASA staff and eye-witnesses, including 14-year-olds Isobel Liptrott and Rachel Wilkinson.

Beverley Wright, deputy head teacher at Clifton with Rawcliffe, was among those claiming to have seen a green man leave the ship and make his way into the building, and children were captivated by the drama.

Five-year-old Dominic Proctor said: “I think it came from space and the man went into the woods. We have to look around to find him. He is green I think he’s an alien.”

Nine-year-old Louis Yeomans, said: “I have really only just come into school and there are a lot of people coming up to me saying aliens have crash landed and that there’s aliens in school. I don’t know what to believe.”

Charlotte Dyson, eight, said: “The aliens must have come from another planet with air, oxygen and water, if they didn’t then they wouldn’t be able to survive here.”

Leah Howell, nine, said: “I was staying at my grandma’s house which backs on to the school and when we woke up my grandma told me to come to the window and look at the smoke coming from the playground. It’s really weird. I didn’t know what was going on.”