'It is abominable' - rural school forced to fully shut after oil theft

Chris Edwards, headteacher at Reedham Primary and Nursery School, pictured in 2013. 

Chris Edwards, headteacher of Reedham Primary and Nursery School, pictured in 2013. - Credit: James Bass

A village school was forced to close for children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters after an "abominable" theft of heating oil.

Chris Edwards, headteacher of Reedham Primary and Nursery School on School Hill, near Acle, said staff made an effort to reopen on Thursday, February 11 for some of its pupils after three days of closures due to snow.

But it could not after its caretaker discovered oil had been stolen from the outside container next to the Victorian school - two weeks after a delivery of around 500 litres.

The incident, which has been reported to Norfolk police, meant the school's classrooms would be too cold to teach in due to the mandatory opening of windows to prevent coronavirus transmission.

It is the second time the school has been targeted - the tank was stripped of oil in 2018 when the Beast from the East hit.

In a stern warning to the thieves, Mr Edwards said: "They need to seriously think about their actions. It has affected children's education which is abominable. They need to take a good, hard look at themselves and think if what they did was justifiable to steal education from children."

Reedham Primary and Nursery School.

Reedham Primary and Nursery School. - Credit: James Bass

The school was due to teach 13 children aged four to 11 on the final two days of term but after the theft, the school will remain shut until after next week's half-term holiday.

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Despite the school being at the end of a rural route, Mr Edwards' team had worked hard to make sure the school was accessible, as well as making paths within the school safe, to ensure children could come in for lessons.

After putting up the news of the suspected theft on the school's Facebook page in the morning Mr Edwards said parents were really disappointed by what had happened.

But it was out of the Facebook page that the idea to set up a JustGiving fundraiser to buy more oil was set up and within one day nearly £1,000 has been raised - double the original target.

The headteacher added: "I'm astonished. We are a small, rural village school. People have been galvanised to make a difference. It is heartwarming that a ray of light can come out of something so callous."

He added that any extra money raised will go towards CCTV for the oil tank.

To donate visit https://bit.ly/2NjjG46

Norfolk police have been approached for comment.

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