Blaze-hit school stunned by outpouring of help as it re-opens to all pupils

A school targeted by arsonists is continuing to be overwhelmed by the “phenomenal” outpouring of support as it begins to recover from the devastating attack.

Rift House Primary School says it has been flooded with donations of toys, offers of cash from the community and even one nursery school pupil who wants to donate his pocket money to the clear up and recovery mission.

Rift House Primary School pupils have returned to school following Sunday's fire. Pictured are some of its children with headteacher David Turner.

Rift House Primary School pupils have returned to school following Sunday's fire. Pictured are some of its children with headteacher David Turner.

It comes after a blaze ripped through the Year 3 classroom and nursery school on Sunday night, with the fire also damaging a newly kitted out play area next to the building.

Children have also been kept off the school field because of the black dust which has settled on the grass.

Pupils were left in tears as they, their families and staff of the Masefield Road school watched on in the street as the fire took hold.

Only Year 6 children returned to class on Monday so they could take their SATs exams, with the rest of the year groups returning today.

The staff have pulled together and have been very supportive of each other.

David Turner

Now the school’s leaders are looking at ways it can accommodate all lessons and activities while the site is cleared and rebuilt, with a new section already being built for its youngest pupils expected to be finished in around seven weeks.

A building now used by the early years groups has been cleared up thanks to parents and staff, with others involved in education, including Hartlepool College of Further Education and the Summerhill Centre, and the neighbouring Footprints private nursery offering support.

Headteacher David Turner said: “The community response has been phenomenal.

“People keep bringing in resources for our nursery and that is greatly appreciated and shows a great strength of our community, not just locally, but across the whole town of Hartlepool.

Teacher Rebecca Baxter with pupils and items donated in the aftermath of the fire.

Teacher Rebecca Baxter with pupils and items donated in the aftermath of the fire.

“The school really welcomes the support and we’ve had messages offering help from all over.

“The children have been absolutely fantastic and obviously they were very upset and a lot of the children live locally and were on the scene on Sunday and were quite distressed, as were their friends and families.

“But they have been really resilient and the Year 6s who returned on Monday to come and sit their SAT tests have been outstanding, but that does not surprise me.

“The staff have pulled together and have been very supportive of each other.”

Mr Turner added his thanks to Hartlepool Borough Council, which made contact with him within minutes of the call reporting the blaze to him and continued to offer help.

A toy fund has been set up by Louise Ingoe to help the school.

Donations can be made via https://www.gofundme.com/3riz9dc