An outdoor classroom at a Bury St Edmunds school built at a cost of £60,000 to £70,000 after a lengthy community fund-raising project has been completely destroyed in a suspected arson attack this evening.
Two fire crews were called to the blaze at the classroom behind St Edmunds RC School, in Westgate Street, at 7.50pm.
Executive Headteacher Maria Kemble said: “An outdoor classroom which we use for our Forest Schools programme has been burned down.
“There is nothing left of it. I was at a governors’ meeting in school and saw huge black billowing clouds going past my window and heard the sirens.
“It was one of those ‘I think that’s my school’ moments, so I ran through the school down to our entrance to get to the forest school but could not go through because the fire was so intense.
“I ran all the way down Friars Lane and by that time there was nothing left.
“We have had a number of occasions when we have had trespassers onto the site and have had to call police to get them removed. I think in all likelihood people have come onto the site who should not have done.”
The school runs the Forest Schools programme where the children build dens, pond dip and learn about different plants and water wildlife.
The classroom cost some £60 to 70,000 and was made possible following a long-term fundraising project by teachers and a lottery grant.
Mrs Kemble added: “The children loved using it and really looked forward to going to Forest Schools, it is going to be devastating for them.
“The children loved using it and really looked forward to going to Forest Schools, it is going to be devastating for them.”Executive Headteacher Maria Kemble
“Why would someone do this to our school.”
Pat Dacey, district commander for West Suffolk Fire and Rescue, said: “We are going to have to work closely with colleagues from the police to try and establish what happened.
“This is very much a community project and a community asset has been taken away by what appears to be a malicious act.”