School’s devastation after new wildlife haven is attacked by intruders

A school has slammed vandals after its new wildlife garden was trashed just days after it opened.

Pupils, staff and parents were left devastated after finding the woodland plot at New Seaham Academy had been damaged when they arrived for classes this morning.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond. Pupils pictured with assistant headteacher Steve Bilton.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond. Pupils pictured with assistant headteacher Steve Bilton.

Large wooden cable spools, which were to be used during outdoor lessons, were hurled into the pond in a trail of destruction, which means the school’s annual winter wonderland celebrations will now have to be cancelled.

The area was created at a cost of £2,500, but it is feared the pond may have to be replaced from scratch if its lining has been pierced.

It is the latest in a long line of incidents, which have included theft of materials being used to build an extension, damage to plaster work after intruders have walked on the roof of the school, in Byron Terrace, and theft of a CCTV system to try and catch the yobs.

A fence put up to try and keep vandals out has also been damaged, with the school believing planks of wood have been stolen for people to use in their own gardens and allotments.

The whole school was absolutely devastated that they have done this.

Pupil George Teasdale

A group of five boys, aged around 12 to 14, are believed to behind the incidents, which have escalated since the summer holidays.

Principal Bernadette Dolan said the school has had enough of the attacks and called for an end to the damage and theft.

She said: “Just last week we opened this wildlife garden and pond.

“It is part of the children’s curriculum and the idea is to help them learn and play an active part in their science lessons, looking at what is around, the plans, the wildlife, and pond dipping and looking at everything that’s down there.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond.

“We’ve tried putting in fencing and other measures, but the position we’re in, if someone wants to get in they will and we shouldn’t be in a situation where we have to take security measures, it’s horrendous.

“I’ve rang the police on 101 so many times and they come out and give us a crime reference number, but they say there’s nothing to be done.

“We are a school, not a business, and we don’t have money to spare and this is tax payers money.

“After just four days our pond cannot be used.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond.

“The children are gutted and we have already had two classes who went down to use it and they loved it.

“We think we know who this is and the police are investigating.”

Ten-year-old George Teasdale is among the pupils who have been left upset by the latest attack.

“People around here have come in and totally wrecked it,” he said.

“The whole school was absolutely devastated that they have done this.

“They’ve put in the tables and made the water absolutely filthy and just completely wrecked it.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond.

Vandals have destroyed New Seaham Primary School's new wildlife pond.

“It’s such a waste of money.”

A Durham Constabulary spokesman said: “We received reports of damage at a school pond at New Seaham Primary School at 8.15am today.

“The incident is believed to have happened overnight.

“Investigations are ongoing into the incident and we would like to reassure local residents and the school that officers will be paying particular attention to the area while on their patrols.

“We would encourage anyone who saw any suspicious activity to get in touch with us on 101, quoting incident number 45 of November 15.”

The completed pond pictured before vandals attacked once again at New Seaham Academy.

The completed pond pictured before vandals attacked once again at New Seaham Academy.