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Vandals force school to close

PUBLISHED: 08:29 09 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

A SCHOOL has been forced to close for two days after vandals went on wrecking spree, leaving a trail of devastation in 11 classrooms.

More than £10,000 of damage has been caused at Stowmarket Middle School after the vandals got into the building on Saturday night.

A SCHOOL has been forced to close for two days after vandals went on wrecking spree, leaving a trail of devastation in 11 classrooms.

More than £10,000 of damage has been caused at Stowmarket Middle School after the vandals got into the building on Saturday night.

They went from classroom to classroom, smashing windows, wrecking computer equipment, damaging musical instruments and destroying pupils' work.

The damage they caused was so severe that Suffolk County Council and headteacher Gordon Ewing have been forced to close the school until Wednesday so a clean-up operation can be carried out.

Mr Ewing said 11 of the school's 12 classrooms had been totally devastated, with the music room being particularly badly-hit after the vandals jumped on violins and guitars.

The school's new interactive computer whiteboard, which cost more than £3,000, was wrenched off the wall and thrown across a classroom.

The vandals also left the taps running in the girl's toilets, sprayed fire extinguishers and defecated on the floor in one classroom.

"The school has been here for more than 20 years and never has anything happened like this before. We are devastated by it," said Mr Ewing.

"The individuals entered the school some time on Saturday evening and basically wrecked 11 of our 12 classrooms by throwing things on the floor, spraying fire extinguishers, throwing computers and defecating in a room.

"Staff and pupils' personal effects are in the school and they have been damaged. One teacher's handwritten reports for her children may be totally destroyed."

Mr Ewing said he had been left with no alternative but to close the 600-pupil school in Walnut Tree Walk for two days while emergency plumbing work was undertaken and an audit was carried out by staff to assess the damage.

"It's a decision I haven't taken lightly, but in order to maintain the health and safety of pupils and staff," he added.

"The school takes pride in its position in the community and will continue to work hard to ensure that when children return, they will continue to get the quality of education they deserve."

Suffolk police have launched an investigation into the vandalism and are expected to look at closed circuit television footage recovered from the school.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said officers were alerted to the incident by a school alarm that is linked to the force's control room.

He added officers had been faced with a "scene of devastation" involving taps being left on in the girl's toilets, smashed fire doors and damaged equipment.

"Once they got into the building, they went through all the classrooms and damaged equipment and student work," said the spokesman.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: "Following severe vandalism over the weekend, Stowmarket Middle School will be closed until Wednesday. A clean-up operation is under way and safety checks will need to be made to ensure the school is safe for the children and staff."

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