IT started out as a scene straight from an Anthony Horowitz novel.

Children arriving at school discovered that one of their teachers, Nick Howarth, had disappeared and there was police tape around the computer suite.

But all was not as it seemed at High Lawn Primary School in Sharples.

Youngsters had to work quickly, carrying out a crime scene investigation, speaking to local bobbies, while trying to make sense of mysterious clues that were appearing throughout the day, and the footage of Mr Howarth’s last movements.

Year six teacher Kerry Tustin said: “When the children arrived at school they were quite shocked.

“There was a crime scene and the ICT room was closed off.

"There were also magical footprints and a door, as well as a strange smell coming from the room.”

And it did not take long for children to lead their own crime scene investigation, even creating their own experiments to understand Mr Howarth’s kidnap.

This also included building secret hideout dens and enjoying marshmallows on a fire.

Footage from 2.45pm showed Mr Howarth telling the children he had to go, and then later that day another encouraging them to work hard and finally one saying he was safe.

Youngsters keen to document their findings as part of their investigations, wrote letters, articles and stories.

Their hard work paid off, because at 3.25pm, Mr Howarth walked through the doors to the delight of children.

Mrs Tustin said: “We organised the day to provide a stimulus for the children’s imagination and it went across the curriculum with numeracy and science activities included too.”

She added: “There was a real buzz around school and Mr Howarth was mobbed by the children when he walked in.”

The young detectives now say they want to do it all again.

Year Six pupil Ethan Bryan said: “I was a bit puzzled when I arrived.

“Mrs Tustin told us that there was an emergency meeting and the whole school went straight into assembly.

“It was then that we found out that Mr Howarth had been abducted.

“The whole day was fantastic from start to end. We had lots of things to do throughout the day including investigating the crime scene, looking at evidence and talking to the police. I definitely want to do it again.”

Elana Dawson in Year Three added: “When we all gathered in the hall it was a big shock. Mr Howarth was on a video — he had vanished and the real police were there too.

“No one had any idea that the teachers had set it all up for us.

“We investigated the scene and used our imaginations to find out where he had gone.

“We received letters telling us what we had to do to get him back to us.

"In the afternoon we made biscuits and shrinking potion. We had to feed the mini door with the biscuits.

“When we got to the ICT suite, a drink and some chocolate had appeared near the door — it was like magic.

"The door was too tiny and we had to help Mr Howarth get back through that door.

“He is a great teacher and we just wanted him back so he could have his cup of tea. Everyone was so happy when he returned.”