Dereham headteacher hits out after vandalism at school

A Dereham head has criticised 'mindless vandals' who caused hundreds of pounds of damage at a school.

The intruders struck over last weekend at Toftwood Infant School, and among the 'pointless and thoughtless' things they did was to drag a bench across the playground that had been bought by children in memory of a child who died of cancer. The bench may have been damaged beyond repair.

The vandals wrecked storage units for which children had collected vouchers over the past year to house gardening equipment and went into the new outdoor classroom and wrote obscene graffiti on the whiteboard.

The wording had to be cleaned off before children and families arrived on Monday morning.

The culprits interfered with the blinds in the outdoor classroom and some of the cords have been broken.

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They also left behind several empty alcopops bottles in the outdoor classroom, for which the children and parent-teacher association worked hard to raise money.

The intruders also broke a sign on the front gate.

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Head Joanna Pedlow said: 'I am at a loss to understand why anyone would think that this was acceptable, and could not think of the impact it would have on the school and our children. Luckily, our caretaker found the damage early on Monday morning and was able to put things back as best he could before the children arrived so they were not upset.'

But Mrs Pedlow added: 'It will not be easy to explain to our children why some people have thought it acceptable to come in and destroy things they have worked so hard to raise money for, save vouchers for and buy. Someone has evidently sold the alcohol to these people, whom I am guessing were not of legal age to drink.'

Mrs Pedlow appealed to parents to find out if their children were involved with the crime.

'What saddens me is that these could have been past pupils of our school, although I really hope they were not. I would hope that if any parents think their children could have been involved, and judging by the number of alcopops bottles found they would have been slightly the worse for wear when they came home, they will talk to them and take appropriate action.'

Sgt Lance Ogbourne, of Norfolk police, confirmed the damage was being investigated and that CCTV images were being studied.

Contact police on 0845 456 4567.

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