INFANT and junior school headteachers in Newton Aycliffe have been invited to a meeting to discuss the growing problem of vandalism at their schools.

The meeting has been called by town and borough councillor Vince Crosby, who has become increasingly concerned at the amount of damage to school buildings.

As well as inviting teachers, Coun Crosby has asked representatives from the police and Sedgefield Borough Council's Community Force to attend the meeting.

The escalating problem was highlighted last month when pupils at Woodham Burn Junior School had to stay at home for a day.

Skylights in several classrooms were vandalised, windows were smashed and rain had poured in. The children were kept away from school for health and safety reasons.

Coun Crosby is hoping the meeting will be the first step in producing ideas to combat the problem.

He said: "We have had a spate of break-ins and vandalism in every school in the town, and one was even closed down as a result. But it is not just Woodham Burn: Horndale, St Francis' and St Joseph's were all targeted within the same month, and it is costing a lot of money, which is coming out of school budgets.

"Every school in Newton Aycliffe has had a letter from me. We have got to do something and look at ways in which we can stop it.

"I don't know if we can resolve the situation, but I'm hoping we can pool ideas."

Durham county councillor Terry Hogan, a governor at Woodham Burn Junior School, said: "I'm very disturbed by all the vandalism. My school was vandalised quite extensively, and we had to close it down under health and safety regulations.

"I think the meeting is necessary because there is a lot of it going on and we do need to look at security."

Coun Hogan said he would be unable to take part in the meeting due to prior commitments, but he hoped an officer from the local education authority would attend.

The meeting, which is not open to the public, will be held at Horndale Infant School on Monday, at 5pm.