A “much-beloved” forest school in Dartford has been vandalised and trashed by a group of teenagers for the third time in 12 months, leaving the staff and children “incredibly sad.”
The Fawkham Montessori Preschool say that thousands of pounds worth of damage were caused and the majority of equipment “permanently damaged,” so have been forced to appeal for help through a GoFundMe page.
The pre-school in Longfield, Dartford, said that at around 5pm on March 6, 10 to 15 ‘teenage and young adults’ were seen congregating in the shelter of the forest play area after some “abnormally loud noises” were heard.
“Bravely”, the landlords went to investigate and found the gang, managing to scare most of the group away and stop the vandalism.
They even managed to apprehend two vandals from the group until police officers arrived when both ere subsequently arrested.
The school says this is the third time they have been targeted in a year, and the second time the “recently repaired and beloved” forest school has been vandalised.
Staff at the pre-school say they have inspected the damage caused by the vandals, and say the “damage is significantly worse this time,” resulting in the majority of their equipment being permanently damaged.
The FMP team said: “We have salvaged what we can but the area that our children absolutely LOVE to use every day is no longer safe to use again until further groundwork is carried out and resources are either removed and/or replaced.”
After “careful consideration,” they have decided to move forward and press charges against the two youngsters caught with the hope it will minimise the chances of vandalism happening again, “for a fourth time for us or to any other local residents or businesses.”
The staff say they are now proactively sourcing replacements for many of their resources and equipment which have been damaged beyond repair, but due to the heavy hitting affects of Covid-19, for the first time they are appealing for help through a GoFundMe page.
“Our forest school area was a project that a member of the team completed as part of her degree in Early Years Education, which as I’m sure you can appreciate took an exceptional amount of investment, fundraising, planning, effort and time from several members of the team.
“Any support will be greatly appreciated, and will be used to speed up the project of ensuring our forest is safe to use and well resourced again.”
The GoFundMe page has so far raised £2,000. You can read more and/or donate here.