Special school vandals forced to make amends

Mindless vandals who caused heartache at a school for youngsters with special needs have been forced to make amends at the scene of their crime.

Saturday, 29th June 2019, 6:00 am
PCSO Natalie Gibson with Bamburgh School head teacher Peter Nord

A dozen youths – all under the age of 14 – broke into the early years’ garden at Bamburgh School, in Norham Avenue, South Shields, over Easter Weekend and wreaked havoc.

The school supports 195 children with a wide range of additional needs and learning difficulties.

Some of the mess the vandals left behind

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During the crime spree, the youths damaged a specialist ground-level trampoline – worth around £6,000 - broke a shed window and destroyed pots that had been planted by pupils.

After those involved were identified by police, 12 youngsters – some of whom were under the age of 10 – were made to make up for their irresponsible actions by doing odd jobs around the school.

Earlier this month, the culprits were taken back to the school to carry out a number of cleaning and tidying jobs.

This was part of a restorative justice conference process, which are often held with youth offenders to help them understand the consequences of their actions.

The damaged specialist trampoline at Bamburgh School

Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Natalie Gibson believes the day allowed the youngsters to realise the level of hurt that their conduct had caused.

She said: “While nothing can take away the heartbreak that the school’s staff and pupils felt as a result of this vandalism, those responsible – many of whom who are a very young age – began to understand just how hurtful their actions were,” PCSO Gibson said.

“They were brought into the school and came face-to-face with those who had been emotionally affected by their behaviour.

“As a result, they spent the day trying to make a more positive contribution.”

She added: “Many of the parents of those responsible were appalled by what their youngsters had done, an the youngsters themselves have since shown genuine remorse and  apologised to the school.

“We will continue to work closely with the school and the local community to ensure this kind behaviour is dealt with appropriately.”

Peter Nord, head teacher at Bamburgh School, said he has been overwhelmed by the kindness shown by those living in the local area.

The school has received messages and donations from people wanting to help cover the cost of the damage.

He said: “Inviting the young people who committed this vandalism into the school for the restorative justice conference was very useful, and I hope they learned a lot from it.”

“Their actions caused a great deal of heartache for everyone at the school and had an adverse effect on our students, because the specialist outdoor area is built into our early years’ curriculum.

“Since this happened, we have been blown away by the response from the local community who have showed incredible kindness and support.

We are all incredibly grateful.”