‘Devastated’ school hit by arson and vandalism attack

SMASHED UP -- the damage caused by vandals to one of the huts in the school's special 'role-play village'.
SMASHED UP -- the damage caused by vandals to one of the huts in the school's special 'role-play village'.

The new year at a successful school in Shirebrook could not have got off to a worse start after sickening attacks of arson and vandalism.

The Park School Federation, which incorporates infant and junior classes for more than 270 children, was targeted just as preparations for the autumn and winter term were being finalised.

All ten huts in a special ‘role-play village’ in the school’s playground were extensively damaged, and one was burned to the ground. Windows were smashed, frames removed and decorative pieces pulled off. PE equipment was also thrown around the playground.

“We are devastated,” said deputy head Claire Bennett. “It is nonsensical. The police say the culprits had no intention of stealing anything. It was purely done to destroy property.”

The ‘village’ is part of the school’s outdoor learning curriculum, Each of the huts had been converted into the kind of shops or amenities, such as post office, pet shop, doctor’s surgery and garage, that might be found in a real-life village.

“The children can walk round the ‘village’ or ride round on their bikes,” said Mrs Bennett. “So this damage will automatically hinder their lessons. People don’t realise the impact it can have.

“All the huts had just been painted, and the ‘village’ was looking lovely for the new school year. It’s so sad. We get so much support from parents, who are furious.”

The attack happened at about 10.30 pm on Thursday last week (August 27). The police have launched a full investigation. Forensics teams have pored over the damaged huts, while officers have conducted house-to-house inquiries in Shirebrook. Anyone with information should ring 101, quoting the crime reference number CR36897/15.

EDUCATION for under-11s in the Shirebrook area has been transformed by the remarkable learning revolution that has taken place at the Park School Federation.

The Orchard Close school is renowned for pioneering modern techniques that incorporate specially devised learning methods. And it was rewarded last year by a glowing report from OFSTED inspectors, who ranked the school ‘outstanding’.

“We take pride in everything we do,” says the school ethos. “We believe in improving standards and maintaining high expectations.”