Staff, pupils and parents at Kempston’s Grange Academy have been left devastated after tools and equipment for their new Forest School were stolen.
On Monday 21 September, pupils were excited to start their first Forest School session, but instead discovered the door to the storage shed wide open and all their tools gone.
Catherine Assink, head teacher said, “We were devastated when we learnt that our brand new Forest School tools and other outdoor equipment had been stolen.
“Forest School is something that we know will enhance our pupils’ engagement with the outdoors. The tools had just been bought and had not even been used.
“Our pupils have a range of learning difficulties and having a Forest School is part of our school development plan.
“With Covid having had such an impact on families, and in particular children, we felt strongly that Forest School would help our pupils to develop their confidence, self-esteem, collaborative learning and getting outside in the fresh air, for some having been cooped up for such a long time indoors during lockdown.
“So for this to happen was a real shame. We have started a gofundme page and so far the public have been so very generous. We would welcome any monetary donations, tools or outdoor equipment to ensure that our pupils can access this wonderful outdoor learning.”
The GoFundMe page has so far achieved over half of its £3,000 target and the school is also keen to hear from any local businesses or organisations who might be able to support them with donations of tools, outdoor equipment and waterproofs.
Grange Academy staff member, Nikki Horner, who set up the GoFundMe page, is running the virtual London Marathon on Sunday and asking her supporters to donate to the school’s fundraising page too.
From 10am on Sunday, Nikki, will be running/walking from Wootton jointly raising funds for Whizzkids and Grange Academy.
“Please donate here,” said Nikki. “We are over the halfway mark, so running 26.2 miles for Grange Academy is well worth any donations.”
Grange Academy’s Forest Schools is available to all pupils at the school.
“Forest School sessions allow children the opportunity to learn about the natural world, develop practical skills, such as stick carving and fire lighting, and explore and play in their woodland setting,” said Catherine.
“That setting changes with the seasons and the children are out whatever the weather.
“We are three weeks into the first cycle of Forest School. So far, all pupils have undertaken den building, knot tying, fire skills, sorting and observing and our older cohort have used some knife skills too.”
It’s already having a big impact on the pupils at Grange Academy too.
“I went on a treasure hunt, I was working with Miss Linney. Forest school was great fun,” said one student.
“I have been looking forward to forest school ever since it was announced,” said another.
“I liked playing 1,2,3, Where are you? An up-graded version of hide and seek. I found the scavenger hunt really hard because everything on my list was well hidden. I am looking forward to cooking things on the camp fire next week.”
Bedfordshire Police have released a statement and have urged anyone with information to get in touch.
“We were called on Monday 21 September to a report of a break-in at The Grange Academy, Kempston, which was believed to have occurred between 7pm on Friday 18 September, and 7am on Monday 21 September, when the discovery was made.
“A number of tools were removed from an unsecured shed at the location, and felt had also been removed from the roof.
“Unfortunately, there is no CCTV footage and no scope for forensic opportunities at the location.
“At the same time, a Wickes branded steamer, and a JVC sub-woofer were found on the field, which don’t belong to the school.
“If anyone has any information about this incident, or is missing the items found on the field, please do contact us quoting reference 40/51459/20.”
To donate to the Grange Academy GoFundMe page, click here.