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Forest School vandalised for third time since September

PUBLISHED: 09:35 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:16 29 April 2019

Forest school leader, Cara Butters, from Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School with broken gardening tools, fencing and a swing which were vandalised over the Easter holidays. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Forest school leader, Cara Butters, from Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School with broken gardening tools, fencing and a swing which were vandalised over the Easter holidays. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

A teacher has spoken of her heartbreak after a special forest school area was broken into for the third time in seven months.

Children's gardening tools snapped in half in another mindless spate of vandalism at the forest school at Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School.  Picture: Neil DidsburyChildren's gardening tools snapped in half in another mindless spate of vandalism at the forest school at Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The outdoor learning space was built at Swaffham Infant and Nursery School last September.

And the school has been running weekly sessions, enabling all pupils to connect with nature in the forest area.

But the White Cross Road school was twice targeted by vandals over the Easter holidays.

On the second occasion, which was discovered when pupils returned to school on April 23, they found that the swing had been ripped down and broken, the wooden see-saw was split in half, and the willow tunnel and willow dome was pulled up in places.

"Why would anyone do this?" Cara Butters, forest school leader at Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School with part of the vandalised willow tunnel the children had built. Picture: Neil Didsbury

In addition, the forest boundary fence was forced in three places, a bird table was smashed to pieces, a compost bin was overturned and cider cans were left over the floor.

It has left Cara Butters, a higher level teaching assistant and forest school leader at the school, close to tears.

She said: “I was absolutely devastated to find the forest school area had suffered yet another mindless attack. This time it was the worst.

“It is so heartbreaking as we have worked so hard to make this area a rich learning environment for children.

A willow tunnel pulled apart. Three times the forest school at Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School has been vandalised since September last year.  Picture: Neil DidsburyA willow tunnel pulled apart. Three times the forest school at Swaffham VC Infant and Nursery School has been vandalised since September last year. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“It took us more than two days to clear the mess and destruction.”

On the first occasion the school was targeted by vandals, items were damaged and stolen.

And then, between the close of school on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 13, a tree was forced down and chairs were smashed on the play-bus on the field.

She added: “These forest school sessions are invaluable to the children whose self-esteem and confidence is increasing. Children have been able to experience the seasons, learn about flora and fauna, construct dens, climb trees, problem-solve, use real tools, light fires and build.”

Vandalism at Swaffham Infants and Nursery School. Pictures: Cara ButtersVandalism at Swaffham Infants and Nursery School. Pictures: Cara Butters

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “We received reports on April 23 of criminal damage at the school. We are investigating.”

Anyone with information should call Norfolk police on 101, quoting reference number 36/26987/19, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Avant Homes recently built a garden reading area for the children at Swaffham Infant and Nursery School. Picture: Mark BullimoreAvant Homes recently built a garden reading area for the children at Swaffham Infant and Nursery School. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Avant Homes recently built a garden reading area for the children at Swaffham Infant and Nursery School. Picture: Mark BullimoreAvant Homes recently built a garden reading area for the children at Swaffham Infant and Nursery School. Picture: Mark Bullimore

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