Mindless vandals smashed bus windows, drove a scissor lift into a wall and broke into an out-building at a Blackpool special school.
Children at Highfurlong School on Blackpool Old Road were devastated yesterday when a planned trip to Lancaster University had to be cancelled after three wheelchair-accessible minibuses were damaged.
Head teacher Neill Oldham said: “It’s so sad. It affects the children so much when people do something like this. The buses are so important to us.
“It can only be described as wilful damage. It’s crazy that people could do that to any school, but particularly one that is so reliant on transport for our children.”
All three of the school’s wheelchair accessible minibuses - including a new nine-seater that was brought in just two weeks ago - were damaged during the attack at around midnight yesterday.
It is also believed the callous vandals drove a scissor lift, which was left in a compound in the school’s car park, into the front of the school, resulting in the wall being chipped.
They gained access to the roof and destroyed some wood panelling on an out-building door.
“We have had to cancel every trip this week for the children. We have no disabled access buses,” Mr Oldham said.
“We have been overwhelmed by support and offers of buses from other schools, but we just can’t get the wheelchairs on.
“It would be totally against our ethos as a school to say that we can take the ambulant children, but all the children in wheelchairs have to stay behind.
“We try to do a lot with our children, getting them out in the local community.
“For quite a few of our children, the only time they get out and about is through school, and now to have everything cancelled is so disappointing for them.
“They all saw what happened because when they came into school there was glass absolutely everywhere, and the scissor lift was abandoned in the middle of the car park. We can’t touch it because it’s a crime scene.
“The children who are verbal were upset and asked us why someone had done this to our buses, and we couldn’t answer them.”
A school trip to a stockist business in Manchester had to be cancelled as a result of the vandalism, as well as planned shopping trips in preparation for a fair at the school.
“It will cost use thousands of pounds,” Mr Oldham said. “It could be weeks and weeks of trouble, because we will have to go through our insurance. The school can’t afford the bill on its own.
“They have actually punctured the front of the building. It’s safe for us to be open and there’s no compromise of safeguarding of the children, but while police are investigating, it’s a crime scene.
“It’s such a shame, We have 84 children here. It’s a lot of people who are affected. But we will find a way around it and keep them smiling and happy, and if we can’t take them out we will bring people to them.”
A police spokesman said: “This was reported to us, as it was ongoing, as three boys at the school going up and down on a cherry picker in the car park. They had potentially gained access to the roof. The backs of three minibuses had been smashed.”
Two boys aged 16 and 14 were arrested on suspicion of aggravated vehicle taking and remained in police custody yesterday.
Can you help?
Can you help police with their investigation into the vandal attack on Highfurlong School in the early hours of yesterday?
It you witnessed anything or have any further information, call 101 quoting log reference number three of Monday, November 11 2019.
Alternatively independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.