YOUNGSTERS were back in class today after callous metal thieves caused £15,000 of damage to their school in South Tyneside.
Lead flashing was ripped from the roof of St Bede’s RC Primary in Harold Street, Jarrow, on Wednesday night, leaving gaping holes that led to part of the building being flooded by overnight rain on Thursday.
The school was forced to close on Friday and remained shut yesterday while work was carried out to make the building safe for its 180 pupils, some who had just started.
They were allowed to return today, after staff worked over the weekend to repair the damage caused to classrooms.
Headteacher Moya Rooney said: “The roofers arrived yesterday to start work and they’ll be here for the next few days, but the inside of the school is fine. We’ve been getting the classrooms back into the order they were in, ready for the children returning after the summer holidays last Monday.
“Everything had to be dragged off the walls because water had been coming down them. There is quite a lot of damage. At least one classroom and a passageway will have to be redecorated, which will probably cost about £600 because the ceilings are so high.
“The asset management team at South Tyneside Council estimate the roof will cost £15,000. It is sickening. We have buildings insurance with the council, but it doesn’t cover us for this.”
She added: “Because we are a diocese school, part of our insurance is with the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle as well, so we might be able to claim something on that, but even then it will only be 10 per cent.”
Mrs Rooney said the theft has had an impact on some pupils at a time when they were already nervous about starting nursery or reception, or moving up a year. Plans to celebrate the school’s centenary next year have been put on the back burner until the repairs have been done.
Two people have been charged in connection with the theft of the lead flashing.
Anthony Howard, 20, of Barnes Road, Murton, County Durham, denied a charge of theft when he appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
The case was adjourned until October 1, when his co-accused, Kristopher Hall, 22, of Epinay Walk in South Shields, will make his first appearance in relation to the same charge.