‘Heartless and vile’ vandals target specialist nursery with toys thrown on roof and furniture stolen

“Vile” vandals who attacked a specialized kindergarten at half-time were warned to “think very carefully about what they did”.

The heartless attack resulted in the Cleveland unit picking up the parts and counting the cost.

The children and staff returned after the break and found furniture and toys on the roof of the building on Hemlington’s Cass House Road.

Two benches, a seesaw and a red trike with a trailer on the back were stolen and parts of a special swing were removed.

Senior Subject Teacher Lucy Donnelly said, “It is heartbreaking to come back to because the toys mean so much to children and their families.

“Luckily we had the swing inside for half-time, but we can’t use it without the attachments as it can’t be securely attached to the frame.”

Cleveland Unit Manager Jennie Kitchen added, “We just hope someone out there has the decency to return the abductee and report those responsible to the police.”

Children will enjoy the Cleveland Unit’s play facilities, including a special swing that can no longer be used

The Cleveland Unit Child Development Center is part of Middlesbrough’s Early Years Specialist Support Service and provides assessment, therapy, subject education and support for families.

Previously based at James Cook University Hospital, the service supports children from birth to four years of age with complex special educational needs and currently has 25 children in the crèche.

Last year it achieved the fifth “outstanding” rating in a row from the education watchdog Ofsted – and is thus one of only 22 that achieved five times the top rating of almost 28,000 providers for early years in England.

Councilor Stephen Hill, Executive Member for Education of Middlesbrough Council, said: “The Cleveland Unit is one of the jewels in Middlesbrough’s crown, so this pointless vandalism and theft is nothing short of contemptible.

“Vandalism of all kinds is abhorrent, but damaging equipment that brings such joy and relief to some of Middlesbrough’s most vulnerable children and their parents is especially abhorrent.

“It is an insult to all of the staff who work so hard to make a real difference to all of the children who attend and to the wider community.

“I urge those responsible to think very carefully about what they have done and if anyone knows who they are, help us find them and make sure they are held accountable.”

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The Middlesbrough Council service employs 27 people and is led by qualified subject teachers supported by senior teaching assistants, SEN support practitioners and lunch assistants.

All employees benefit from extensive training to support the special educational needs of children.

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