YOUNGSTERS were left devastated after thieves broke into their school and stole their gardening tools.

Pupils were working on a “forest school” outdoor area at St Matthew’s CE School in Halliwell — but this has now had to be put on hold due to thefts of the gear worth hundreds of pounds.

The yobs climbed over a fence, broke into a shed and and made off with tools including special wood whittling knives.

Headteacher Mark Hamblett said: “It is dreadful, it is a completely pointless act. I am worried there are people with these knives out there.

“We did not shout about what we were doing, we kept it as a surprise for the children. The Forest co-ordinators discovered the padlock had been cut off and ransacked when they went to the shed.

"The people who did this had gone through the tool boxes. It is not the expense, the children’s enjoyment has suffered.”

Staff and pupils had been working on the area during the summer term and over the school holidays. It was going to be used to teach the outdoor curriculum which includes camping activities, wood whittling, working as team, and team working skills.

Mr Hamblett said: “I have had to explain that some people do terrible things and that our children know to make the right decisions.

“We will move on from this."

He said that the school would ensure the programme would run as planned and be a success for the children.

Mr Hamblett: “This is a school, how far do we go with security. The school has a fence around it, we should not have to have cameras.”

He urged people who knew anything about the break-in to report it.

Mr Hamblett said: “This is a close knit community and if anybody has any information or knows anything to report it to police or the school office, or CrimeStoppers."

A police spokesman confirmed the break in and appealed for anyone with information to contact the police on 101.