How staff and pupils at a Scottish primary were left 'despondent' after vandals targeted brand new minibus

Head teacher says youngsters ‘upset’ by latest ‘soul destroying’ attack

Pupils at a Scottish primary school have been left “very upset” after finding their brand new 17-seat minibus had been targeted by vandals.

Police were contacted on Tuesday after the incident at St Francis’ Primary and Nursery Class in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. Windows of two classrooms in a modular unit were also smashed during the attack over the holiday weekend.

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The school only got the keys to the minibus on May 17, with trips being arranged to parks and beaches outside the city. Head teacher Joanne Martin told The Scotsman it was the latest in a series of vandalisms at the school.

“There were some very upset children this morning,” she said. “Some of them came in to sports clubs at the school as early as 8.20am this morning, so the glass and shattered windows were glaringly obvious. Their hearts were sinking.

“We’re just pretty despondent, to be honest. Despondent is the word, because this has been a long time coming, actually physically acquiring this minibus - it has been over two-and-a-half years of hard work and determination on behalf of many people.

“We thought it would be good to get out and about beyond the Gorbals and inner-city Glasgow. Kids that have maybe never been to a beach, have never been to certain areas of the country, mountainous areas, things like that. It’s about just making the most of this holistic education we believe in. “Apart from anything else, it’s a really terrible message for our children to come into this morning. In terms of the spirit of equity and equity for all, what kind of message does it send to children coming in after a holiday weekend that something that is brand new and exciting for them, they have been longing for, has just been targeted?

“We have had a spate of being targeted, although there has been a a bit of a reprieve since November last year. They tried to set fire to the back of the school, to one of the doors.

“Our nursery’s outdoor space was basically trashed last year as well. Our picnic tables and grass area for children to use during their breaks was targeted.”

Ms Martin is pleading with the local authority to install security cameras at the site in the city’s Old Rutherglen Road. “When is this going to end?” she said. “The children of the Gorbals deserve everything that is going, they don’t deserve to have things absolutely destroyed like this.

“We would like to have some sort of camera footage available. We understand the budget constraints, and you can say that if it is young people, they will put their hoods up and wear things over their face, but it is a deterrent.”

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The head teacher added: “It is a wonderful, thriving multicultural community to live in, and that is why this is so soul-destroying.

“It’s giving an undue reputation to an area that has been regenerated and developed, and the pupils are magnificent. I’m so proud to be the head teacher of this school, but we cannot keep getting negative messages like this from local people, or assuming they are local people, who just want to ruin things for the children.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 7.45am on Tuesday, 28 May, 2024, we received a report that a vehicle and windows had been damaged at a premises on Old Rutherglen Road, Glasgow.

“Enquiries are at an early stage.”