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Police Scotland officers in the Highlands hunting for vandals after outdoor classroom fire at Avoch Primary School on the Black Isle; parent council says the damage is particular blow as outdoor classroom is more vital than ever amid push for social distancing in the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic

By Philip Murray

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Avoch Primary School.
Avoch Primary School.

"HORRIBLE" vandalism at a Black Isle school has left a local parent council saddened, after "significant" damage was done to a vital outdoor classroom.

Avoch Primary School's outdoor classroom, dubbed 'Betty' by the pupils, was damaged by a fire recently – following escalating incidents where rubbish was left strewn at the site in recent weeks.

The facility is the only undercover outdoor classroom at the school – a fact which has taken on greater importance in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing.

School headteacher Lorna Sim said the cost of the damage is not yet known.

But she added that the area where the damage occurred is covered by CCTV cameras, and warned those responsible for recent anti-social behaviour that they risked being caught on video.

The parent council has urged anyone with information about the vandalism to contact police.

"We were very saddened to hear the news that the school suffered an incident of vandalism," they said. "A group of people entered the school grounds and lit a fire on the wooden floorboards of our outdoor classroom, “Betty”.

"It is now unusable without significant repairs. In addition, bottles and cans were left.

"Although the worst damage occurred at the weekend just past, there has been increasing debris and damage caused in recent weeks. The incident has been reported to the police and is currently being investigated.

"The impact of this horrible act of vandalism on our school is significant. Our outdoor classroom is a vital space in the school and, as the only undercover outdoor classroom, is needed even more during the current pandemic situation.

"It is sad that in our community, which has shown such care and support for each other during difficult times this year, that a group of individuals have decided it is acceptable to behave in this way.

"Nobody should be within the school grounds outwith school hours without prior permission. We would encourage members of the community to contact the police if they see anybody in the grounds.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to remind all members of our school and wider community to please act responsibly and with kindness and respect for others."

A Police Scotland spokesperson has urged anyone with information to get in touch. They said: "We received a report of vandalism to Avoch Primary School on Wednesday, September 16.

"The incident is believed to have happened over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13.

"Anyone with any information should contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 3369 of September 16."

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