Bristol primary’s forest school destroyed after ‘terrible’ arson attack 

A fire has caused ‘significant damage’ to a school’s outdoor learning area
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A school in south Bristol has vowed to rebuild its forest school after it was destroyed in a ‘terrible’ arson attack.

The facility at St. Peter's C of E Primary School in Ellfield Close in Bishopsworth went up in flames during the October half-term, causing ‘quite significant’ damage.

As well as destroying resources, benches, wooden storage, play areas and trees, the fire has also caused ‘extensive damage’ to the school’s perimeter fencing.   

St Peter’s has launched a fundraiser to rebuild the ‘magical’ forest school, already raising more than £2,600 out of a £5,000 target.

Writing on the fundraising page, head teacher Matthew Stannard said: “After the terrible arson attack at St. Peter's C of E Primary School during the October half term holiday; parents, carers and local businesses have helped to restore faith in that we have a wonderful and caring south Bristol community. We simply have been inundated with offers of support, both financially and in terms of a volunteer force.  

“The damage caused by the fire to the forest school is quite significant. It has not only destroyed resources, benches, wooden storage, play areas and trees, but has also caused extensive damage to the perimeter fencing that will need to be replaced and, most likely upgraded to metal security fencing. 

“Therefore, for all those wonderful people, if you would like to make a donation to our fund to ‘Build Back Better’ our forest school provision, please donate here. Every single penny will be spent on restoring our magical forest school and making it once again a resource our pupils can explore and flourish in.”   

Speaking to BristolWorld, Mr Stannard said he has promised the schoolchildren that he will rebuild the forest school better than it was before.     

“The children are really sad this has happened, they can’t understand the mindlessness of it all. Lots of children have volunteered time to help clear it out and fundraise. We’re inundated with help from parents and volunteers.     

“The south Bristol community has been amazing which has restored some faith in humanity.”        

He said Cameron Balloons have donated a parachute for the forest school’s shelter, L&M Tree Services have come and cleared trees, and Abacus Waste have donated a skip to clear waste. 

“It probably cost thousands of pounds just to get the perimeter fence fixed,” he added. 

“It’s just frustrating, because all schools' budgets are significantly stretched and what you want to spend money on isn’t fencing, but things that have an impact on children.”       

An Avon & Somerset Police spokesperson said: “We would ask anyone with information about a criminal damage incident in Bishopsworth last month to please contact the police.

"A wooden shelter was damaged in a fire at St Peter's Primary School, in Ellfield Close, at approximately 5.40pm on Friday 27 October. Avon Fire and Rescue Service attended and consider the fire was started deliberately.

“The local neighbourhood team are aware. A PCSO visited the school last week to talk to staff and conduct CCTV enquiries.“

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact us via our website or call 101 and quote reference number 5223266075."

To donate to the fundraiser, visit: www.justgiving.com/campaign/forestschoolbbb