Carnage at Arnage as vandals wreck school facilities

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PARENTS at a rural school have condemned vandals who went on a wrecking spree at the weekend.

Residents living near Arnage Primary School awoke on Sunday morning to find that the school’s outdoor areas had been extensively damaged, with windows smashed, the polytunnel slashed, and the children’s picnic benches smashed to pieces.

Parent Council spokeswoman Emma Dawson described the attack was “mindless”, and added that the vandalism would come as a “cruel blow” to the youngsters, who had recently been commended for their work improving the outdoor areas of the school.

“All parents and pupils at Arnage are upset and angry about this mindless and selfish incident,” she told the Times.

“We are a tiny, one-class school within a close knit community. We work well together both in and out of school, and only recently celebrated the jubilee with a huge community garden party, and a charity walk that raised hundreds of pounds for Sports Relief.”

The school’s new outdoor classroom - paid for by a lottery grant in March - had its windows smashed in the attack, while the Auchnagatt and District Playgroup’s shed received similar treatment. The playgroup’s recycled bottle greenhouse was also damaged beyond repair.

In addition, the school’s polytunnel - which had just been recently completed - was slashed in several areas, and a number of small benches used by the children during their lunchtime break had been broken as well.

Emma said: “Small schools like ours don’t have disposable income to replace these things.

“We will really have to dig deep to raise money for the repairs and replacements.”

She added that she believed the vandalism had come following a party at a nearby property.

“Police have interviewed those at the party and we believe have a lead, but I am afraid that is all we know at present,” she said.

“The children have worked many lunchtimes in their gardening club, planting fruit and vegetables they had hoped to grow to eat and sell for much needed school funds. Teachers, parents and the schools 16 pupils have given up their own time to get this project underway, and had just two days previously been awarded the Green Flag Award in recognition of their work.

“Indeed, the pupils were so involved and proud of their outdoor space that they have a rota to do the watering over the summer holidays.”

Cllr Rob Merson, who works closely with the school told the Times that the attack was “extremely disappointing.”

He said: “The children and staff at Arnage have put a great deal of effort into these projects, and will be devastated by such mindless damage. The Parent Council at Arnage is extremely active and has raised a great deal of money to enhance the children’s educational experience at the school, and it is extremely disappointing to see their efforts destroyed.

“However, I understand that the Police are following a line of enquiry which may lead to the culprit being caught, and I hope that the offender’s ‘educational experience’ might also be enhanced.”

Just last month, the Times reported on a similar vandalism which occurred at Balmedie Primary, where the children’s outdoor garden was wrecked. The vandalism also follows an attack at Pitmedden Gardens, which saw thousands of pounds of damage caused to two sculptures.

Emma appealed for any local businesses or individuals who might be willing to help put the damage right to come forward.

“I guess we would also really like to appeal to any local businesses who feel they could help in any way. Small schools are vital to the health and well being of the shire, and our children will not be beaten by this, but a helping hand would be really appreciated.”