Primary school children and staff have been left saddened after a outdoor classroom which brought joy to many youngsters was destroyed in an arson attack.

Staff and pupils at Queensbridge Primary School arrived on Monday to find the outdoor learning area - built by staff in their own time - completely wrecked.

The devastation wreaked comes after weeks of theft and vandalism at the Farnworth school, with the latest incident leaving the school community devastated, with some members of staff reduced to tears at seeing what had taken place.

Headteacher Louise Chapman said: "Staff built the outdoor classroom in their own time to create our Forest School, which children loved learning in, they looked forward to it, for some it was their biggest highlight.

"It is the children who ultimately missing out because of this We are devastated, some staff members were in tears."

She added: "The love and dedication that has been poured into developing such a wonderful learning environment has been ruined"

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The vandals struck around 4pm on Sunday and CCTV has captured three youths climbing over fences and Mrs Chapman has appealed to the local community to please pass on any information to the police or the school.

The Forest School has been a key resource for the school for few years, bringing the curriculum to life and providing enrichment activities for children. The outdoor classroom was completed in October of last year, and a huge celebration marked with a ribbon cutting ceremony took place only this year.

Children from other schools also benefit from the area.

The fire all but destroyed the outdoor classroom, tree stumps used as stools and plants, the flooring and the special outdoor materials, including pens, were all damaged or destroyed. Offensive and obsene graffiti was daubed on the white board.

Mrs Chapman said: "We explained to the children what had happened in a whole school assembly on Monday, and I explained to the children that no one was hurt and we have to positive.

"We will move forward from this and rebuild it for the children.

"It is sad and we are devastated but the children know we will restore it. It is not just used for lessons we have lunchtime activities there and the children know this is just temporary."

She added that the actions of the youths is not reflective of all young people and the message that children at her school can make a difference in their community still stands.

Mrs Chapman said: "We instil in the children they can make a difference in Farnworth and where they live, and these actions go against that and it is sad.

"Whoever did this will be affecting the children who live in the community, it could be there cousin their siblings."

Queensbridge Primary School is an Ofsted rated good school with the report stating: "Pupils are proud of the contribution that they make to their local community and wider society."

But she also added: " We do have CCTV which identifies 3 youths climbing over the fences.

"If any of our families know any more , I'd be really grateful as I do plan to prosecute once we have confirmation of ID."