School toy rampage leaves pupils upset

Pupils at Park Community Academy in Blackpool were left devastated after teenage vandals left a trail of destruction around the school over the weekend Surveying the chairs strewn around the playground are Connor, Alfie, Rio and Louie
Pupils at Park Community Academy in Blackpool were left devastated after teenage vandals left a trail of destruction around the school over the weekend Surveying the chairs strewn around the playground are Connor, Alfie, Rio and Louie
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Teen yobs have wrecked hundreds of pounds of equipment for youngsters at a special school in what has been called a ‘disgusting’ attack.

The three boys smashed their way through a fence at Park Community Academy in Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, before going on a 15-minute wrecking spree, destroying toys and whatever else they could get their hands on.

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

The mindless act of vandalism means four and five year olds – who have special educational needs – will have to go without until September, when the school will have the cash to invest in new toys and equipment.

Business manager Annie Millard said the three vandals, believed to be aged 13 to 15, were caught on CCTV, with footage now passed to police.

She said: “They were having fun and enjoying themselves, and it’s disgusting that they think it’s OK to behave like that.

“It’s devastating for the children, and the staff who have worked so hard to get these resources in, only to see it destroyed in the space of 10 to 15 minutes.”

All of the children have been left really upset

The school’s headteacher, Keith Berry, had just left when the three youngsters booted down a metal fence, close to a car park, at around 6.15pm on Thursday, Annie said.

They then climbed over a fence into the school’s Jubilee Garden, specially-designed for reception and Year 1 children, before running riot.

Annie said: “They kicked in the door of the playhouse before trashing that. They wrenched the doors off the red storage cupboard, pulled all the toys out, and threw things as far down the field as they could.

“They stood on what they could break, and picked outdoor picnic seating up and threw them.”

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

A large polytunnel used by pupils across the school for gardening was also targeted.

It was slashed with garden tools, plant pots containing freshly-planted seeds were smashed, while compost was also lobbed around the playground.

The school estimates the total cost of the trio’s spree to top £500, Annie said.

“All of the children have been left really upset,” she added.

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

“We are a special school and there’s a lot of outdoor playing.

“They do things to help them develop, and obviously they’re unable to use all the equipment they want to.”

The school, which caters for boys and girls aged from four to 16, as well as offering post-16 education to teens up to the age of 19, looks after those with a wide range of learning needs.

That includes pupils with moderate to severe learning difficulties, autism, sensory impairments, and emotional and behavioural needs.

Coun Allan Matthews, of Auburn Grove, said he would be visiting the school to offer his assistance.

He said: “The staff work so hard to make the school a good one, and I’m appalled youngsters can do this. .”

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said officers were called at 6.20am on Friday when the school’s site manager arrived at work to find the mess. Anyone with information can call 101.

School has been targeted before by teenage vandals, and arsonist

It will be 11 years next month since the school, then called Park School, had its windows broken and blinds ripped down, and expensive computer, camera, and electrical equipment stolen by teenagers.

School chiefs and the police condemned the attack, which saw most of the high-tech gear dumped on land behind the school. It also happened in the evening.

Headteacher Keith Berry told The Gazette at the time: “It is sad that these people have so little respect for school premises.”

And last April, pupils and staff were evacuated after a blaze broke out in a toilet block, causing some fire and smoke damage.

Police were called in to probe the fire, which started at noon and was ‘likely’ started deliberately, according to the fire service.

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage

Police are probing the vandalism, which caused around �500 of damage