St Luke's School, Redbourn pupils left upset after arsonists destroy outdoor classroom

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 July 2017

St Luke's Special School assistant head Carol Morris and learning support assistant James Tulley with year 6, 7 and 8 pupils Lewis, Paul, Alexander and Alfie in front of the burnt down outside classroom. Picture: Danny Loo

St Luke's Special School assistant head Carol Morris and learning support assistant James Tulley with year 6, 7 and 8 pupils Lewis, Paul, Alexander and Alfie in front of the burnt down outside classroom. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Teachers have been left to console upset children after arsonists burned their outdoor classroom to the ground, causing about £37,000 of damage.

The burnt down outside classroom at St Luke's Special School. Picture: Danny LooThe burnt down outside classroom at St Luke's Special School. Picture: Danny Loo

The raiders also released two donkeys that were stabled within the grounds at St Luke’s School, Redbourn which were found wandering near to Harpenden Gold Club at 5am the following day. Both were thankfully unharmed.

The outdoor classroom at the special needs school for pupils aged nine to 16 with learning difficulties was a barn structure and had not even been used by pupils, as it had only just been built.

It cost the school around £35,000 and staff are now unsure whether the damage will be covered by insurance. It is setting up an online fundraising page to raise the money for the repairs.

The donkeys most likely escaped through the gap in the fence which was left by the arsonists.

The burnt down outside classroom at St Luke's Special School. Picture: Danny LooThe burnt down outside classroom at St Luke's Special School. Picture: Danny Loo

The school will have to pay for the donkeys’ temporary care and also faces the costs of repairing the security fence.

Assistant headteacher Carol Morris believes the intruders must have taken the two donkeys from the unlocked stable before setting the classroom alight.

She said: “We can only assume they must have had a sudden attack of conscience and they didn’t want the donkeys harmed if the fire spread.

“Some of the children are very upset. We have a lot of animals here, so they are used to animals dying but this is something else. It is hard for them to understand why they don’t have an outdoor classroom anymore.

“Some of them are asking: ‘Did the monsters come?’ We have had to do a lot of reassuring.

“It is very frustrating and it’s a hell of a lot of money.”

There were also sheep in the paddock, which were taken to safety by firefighters during the incident on Thursday, June 29.

PC Richard Donbavand, who is investigating, said: “We are treating this incident as arson and are appealing for anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously around the school overnight to get in touch.

“This incident has deprived the school of their outdoor classroom, which will cost a significant amount of money to replace.

“Anyone with information that could assist our investigation is asked to contact me via Hertfordshire Constabulary’s non-emergency number 101, quoting ISR 118 of June 30.”

To donate to the fundraising campaign, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stlukesredbourn

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