A SCHOOL community has raised hundreds of pounds in days after an outdoor classroom was damaged by vandals.

Parents at Springfield Academy, in Darlington, said they wanted to help the school after the efforts of headteacher and “absolute legend” Richard Gartland and his staff to support pupils this year.

Staff at the school, which is part of the Education Village, were devastated this week after vandals smashed a playhouse and destroyed plants.

In response, parents set up a fundraiser which has raised more than £400, including £200 from Haughton Matters.

Emily Brown, whose daughter Chloe is in reception, said: “It was awful to see how upset the staff were.

“They have been amazing so it is good to give something back. In lockdown Mr Gartland must have visited every one’s home and even when one of the classes missed its Christmas party because of isolating, they came and delivered pizza and sweets so they could have it at home.

“We’ve had a really good response from people. With it being such an awful year we really appreciate people donating their money.”

Mr Gartland said: “There’s not much good that’s come out of this pandemic but the community spirit has been tremendous.

“We have had great support from families.”

He added: “We’ve had a lot of feedback from parents after the vandalism and it has been heartwarming and shows it does work both ways. We give but they give back as well.

Saying the vandalism had been “disheartening” for the school, he added: “With the publicity it has, the community is taking responsibility and hopefully the message that this is unacceptable will get out.”

The headteacher has spent hours delivering breakfasts to pupils, as well as Easter eggs and Christmas party bags to pupils in year four, who missed the end-of-term bash because they had been told isolate at home.

Mum Kim Brown, whose sons Jacob, seven, and Noah, nine, go to the school, said: “He is just absolutely amazing.

“My child is in year four and he was really upset he couldn’t go to the party. It was just some little things in the party bag but it meant the world to them.

“I don’t know any other schools that have done as much.

“Mr Gartland has been in constant contact with us and it has made it a bit easier. He deserves an award or something. All the parents feel like that.”

Joiner Craig Williams and timber merchant Rob Appleton have agreed to build a new play house in the New Year and the money raised will buy new equipment for the school.