Pupils back in class following vandalism acts

Headteacher Steve Hollinghurst with Tommy Read Picture: Sarah Standing (151924-9663)
Headteacher Steve Hollinghurst with Tommy Read Picture: Sarah Standing (151924-9663)

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CHILDREN at a special school that suffered £15,000 of vandalism are settling back in after an outpouring of support from the community.

Head Steve Hollinghurst from St Francis Special School in Fareham spoke out yesterday after two arrests were made following the criminal damage which took place earlier this month.

Some of the damage

Some of the damage

The school, in Oldbury Way, is for children aged between two and 19 with severe learning difficulties.

It was broken into on November 8 and graffiti was sprayed on the buildings, roof tiles 
were ripped up and windows smashed.

There were three separate break-ins, which took place in the October half-term.

The school closed for six days while emergency repairs were made but Mr Hollinghurst said that thanks to a huge outpouring of support, the pupils are starting to get back to a normal routine.

He said: ‘The children are beginning to settle back in, which is really good.

‘I’m still absolutely overwhelmed by the support from the community.

‘Every day we are receiving cheques for hundreds of pounds.’

Many fundraisers have been held around Fareham and more than £11,000 has been raised, plus the school has been inundated with offers of help.

Mr Hollinghurst said the break-ins had not only cost the school, but had also affected families who had to take unexpected time off, cutting into holiday time and preventing some from taking leave at Christmas.

One parent Dave King, from Knowle, whose son Ross has severe autism and has been a pupil at St Francis for 14 years, said: ‘The impact on the school was horrendous.

‘The school is dealing with people who have serious illnesses, people who are vulnerable in society, and to see what had happened was just awful.

‘But the way the community has rallied has been absolutely phenomenal.’

Police are still appealing for witnesses. Call PC Matt Curson at Fratton police station on 101 quoting 44150389154.

n Two 17-year old boys were arrested yesterday on suspicion of causing criminal damage and have been bailed until January 4 pending further enquiries.