CHILDREN and staff have been left devastated after cruel thieves sneaked into their school’s new nature garden and stole two sections of solid wooden fencing.
St Helen’s Primary School, in Durham Street, on Hartlepool’s Headland, had a new solid wooden fence erected around its Forest School Area – which includes a pond and other outdoor play equipment – less than a year ago.
The kids regularly use the area to learn about wildlife and nature and to enjoy the outdoors.
But when the school caretaker was carrying out his usual checks on Tuesday morning he noticed that two 5ft sections of the fence, worth around £400, were missing.
Staff contacted Cleveland Police who today confirmed that officers are investigating the crime.
Carolyn Littler, business manager at St Helen’s, said the school will now have to fork out money from its own funds to replace the fence, cash that could have gone to good educational use.
She told the Mail: “The children and the staff are devastated really that someone has come onto the school grounds and stole the fencing. It hasn’t even been up a year yet.
“As well as the financial impact on the school having to replace the fence, it also means that until it gets replaced none of the children can go near the area because the fence was there for safety reasons. We don’t want any of them wandering in unsupervised.
“We were going to buy some other things to put outside but it’s made us wary of doing that in case they get stolen as well, and we’re also worried that they might come back and take some more of the fence over the school holidays because we break up on Friday.”
She added: “We’re really disappointed and really upset that someone could do this to the children. It just spoils things for all of us.
“We just want our school and our equipment to be left alone. The money that we’re going to have to spend replacing the fence could have been spent elsewhere. Schools are strapped for cash these days so we could do without this.”