Outdoor classroom at a Bury St Edmunds primary school is destroyed by ‘a malicious act’

The fire at St Edmunds Catholic Primary School. Photo: John Hughes

The fire at St Edmunds Catholic Primary School. Photo: John Hughes - Credit: Archant

An outdoor classroom that cost a Bury St Edmunds community £70,000 is believed to have been deliberately torched by trespassers.

A distraught Maria Kembal, head of St Edmunds RC Primary School after the forest school hut at the s

A distraught Maria Kembal, head of St Edmunds RC Primary School after the forest school hut at the school was distroyed by fire last night - Credit: Archant

The head at St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School said the children would be “devastated” by the news.

A large plume of smoke hung over the town yesterday evening following the blaze in a meadow behind the school in Westgate Street.

The outdoor classroom, which was made of steel and plastic, was used by the students for the Forest Schools programme.

Maria Kemble, executive head of the school, said it had cost £60-70,000 to achieve, with the cash being collected through fundraising and Lottery bids.

She had been in a governors’ meeting when she saw the smoke and realised part of her school was on fire.


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She said: “We have had a number of occasions where we have had trespassers onto the site and we have had to call the police to get them removed, so I think in all likelihood people have come onto the site when they shouldn’t have done and that’s what caused it.”

She said the children really looked forward to using the classroom, where they learn about plants and animals.

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“It’s going to be devastating for them and for them it’s ‘why would someone do that to our school’?”

She added parents had also worked hard at weekends clearing the site to get it ready for the outdoor classroom building, which has been in place for two years.

Two fire engines from Bury St Edmunds attended the scene, with crews taking less than an hour to get the flames under control and prevent them from spreading any further.

The fire service got the call at about 7.50pm.

Pat Dacey, district commander for west Suffolk, said: “We are going to have to work closely with colleagues from the police to establish what has happened here and who’s responsible.

“The difficult thing and the sad thing about this is what the headteacher has told you: this is very much a community project, a community asset that has been taken away by what appears to be at the moment a fairly malicious act.”

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