As head teacher Michael Curtin told devastated parents, Telegraph & Argus photographs showing him in the aftermath of Saturday's shattering fire could only tell part of the story.

The monetary cost of the damage wrought at Baildon CE Primary School is still being counted, but the impact on the community and its children has already been felt.

An arson attack has robbed a lively school of its nursery and reception areas, completely destroying the interior, with toxic fumes leaving their mark across the entire school.

Computers, books, furniture, white boards and other vital resources have been reduced to ash. Year one and the reception classes, nursery, the music room and an art room will all need extensive repair.

But already the talk is of getting the school back on its feet, even though they face a repair and replacement bill running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Deputy head teacher Brian Lafferty said they were working hard under difficult circumstances.

"We have got the power back on in school. The hope now is for the heating and water to be working by today," he said.

"Industrial cleaners are due in, so once the school is cleaned we can get years two, three, five and six back on Monday."

Areas not usually used for teaching, such as the hall and library, will be called into service.

"It has been a disturbing experience for all concerned. There have been staff in tears. Much of the work they have been doing with the children has been destroyed.

"We had school photographs ready to be given out in time for Christmas which are gone, as well as the loss of the children's personal effects."

He said a rebuilding programme was expected to take around nine months.

The fire at the Coverdale Way school started when a toy wendy house was set alight in the grounds between 8.30pm and 10.45pm on Saturday.

Detective Inspector John Mountain, of Keighley CID, said they had received an encouraging public response to their investigation.

"Inquiries are progressing and we are following a number of leads from various sources of information.

"I would encourage anyone who knows anything about the incident to contact us because we are keen to arrest the perpetrators as soon as possible. It is clearly not on to be depriving children of their education."

To aid the re-build and replacement work, parents are starting an appeal fund.

"We need money and vouchers to buy new books and resources quickly so that when the school reopens on Monday the children will be able to have something to do," said Jennie McCutcheon, parent of five-year-old Jamie, and seven-year-old Calum.

An "emergency planning" meeting for the campaign has been called on Friday at Baildon Community Link in Cliffe Lane at 2.15pm.

One upset parent, Christine Alexander, a self-employed NVQ assessor, has cancelled a week's work in order to care for daughter Charlotte while she is off school.

Mrs Alexander, a member of the school's Parents, Teachers and Friends Association, said her eight-year-old daughter was sad her keyboard and violin lesson had been cancelled, while others would be missing karate and the school's Funtastik after-school club.

"Charlotte is devastated about what's happened. Being children they take it personally. They are saying to each other our' whiteboard has been ruined, my' pencil case is destroyed."

Dawn Pawlowycz, of Hoyle Court, parent of nine-year-old Rebekah, recalled the night the arsonist struck.

"I got a call from another mum at school explaining what had happened and she burst into tears.

"Rebekah wanted to see her school straight away. We couldn't believe what had happened."

Mrs Pawlowycz works and is able to rely on family to care for Rebekah while school is closed.

She was looking forward to meeting teachers at parents' evening yesterday, but the arson attack forced its cancellation.

"It's just an example of how things have been affected, but I'm sure that with everyone pulling together we will be back on track."

David Corcoran lives with his wife Gillian and daughter Amelia, aged eight, at Bilsdale Way. Amelia usually goes to a dancing class after school. He said parents of younger children must feel "devastated" at the loss of the nursery. "There have been problems with other children being in the playground of an evening for a while," he said.

"If any of them are involved, I don't know. But if someone local is responsible, I'm fairly sure the police will find out who because people are upset about this."

Debra Hodgson, of The Grove, agreed that the attack had caused a lot of sadness.

"We are trying to keep the children together because in times like this they cope better when they have each other to talk to.

"It's been like bereavement for them, because they feel the school is a part of them."

Mrs Hodgson said the Telegraph & Argus website - www.thetelegraph - had been helpful in allowing parents and pupils to air their frustrations.

"What's been nice is seeing comments from people not connected to the school. It shows that people care and are thinking about you in a difficult time."

Her daughter Lucy, aged eight, has written about her worries over the forthcoming SAT exams, how she cannot afford to miss school and her concern for fellow pupils and school staff.

Mrs Hodgson said rumours were circulating in the village about the possible identity of the culprit.

"I am sure someone will have seen something or will have some information that can help police."

Laura Shackleton, mum of seven-year-old Sam, has had to tell her three-year-old, Luke, that his induction visit to the school will not be happening yet. "For Sam, his work hasn't been directly affected, but he takes it personally. He talks about it being something that's happened to his school and he finds it really difficult to comprehend. It's difficult for a parent to explain to them why someone would do this."

As a declaration of the bid to stay on track, the school's Christmas fair, which had been due to take place on Saturday, will now be going ahead on December 2 - just a fortnight after that dreadful and destructive night.


  • To contribute to the appeal send cheques, made payable to Baildon C of E PTFA, Baildon School Fire Appeal, C/O Jennie McCutcheon, Baildon C of E Primary School, Coverdale Way, Baildon, Shipley, BD17 6TE.

Anyone or businesses wishing to donate goods, such as nursery equipment, books, nursery and reception furniture, children-sized toilets and sinks, should contact Mrs McCutcheon on 07979 554843.


People logging onto the T&A's website - - can instantly have their say on the latest news posted on the site. Many readers upset by the arson attack did just that. Here is a selection of their responses.

Posted by: Dave, 6.10pm Monday: Whoever is responsible for this mindless act ought to be ashamed, caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law. Education is the most important start to life and these bozos are depriving children of that because of there mindless actions, never mind all the hard work from both staff and pupils.

Posted by: Luci And Faye, 7.30pm Monday: Me and Faye are Year 6 pupils at Baildon Church Of England Primary School! We are devastated that someone would do this 2 our school especially when out SATS are coming up we can't afford 2 miss school! We have been 2 see our school it is a atrocious! We hope all our teachers are OK and our building is safe 2 go in next week!

Posted by: Sophie, 7.26pm Monday: I am a year 6 Pupil at Baildon Church of England Primary school and I am devastated that someone would do such a thing to a beautiful and well looked after school like ours. Also because the SATS are coming up for the year 6 pupils a weeks loss of revision is not very good for the marks and scores so we all hope to get back to school as soon as possible and hopefully the school will be back to normal as well!!!

Posted by: Debra Hodgson, 7.38pm Monday: My daughter is in year six a critical year for her education. The mindless act of vandalism caused by these people is not only jeopardising her education but all of her friends in this year and indeed the whole school. Years of work by teachers and staff have been destroyed and the children are desperately upset. I hope that those responsible will be found and appropriate punishment dealt out.

Posted by: Emily, 4.41pm Tuesday: I'm a pupil in year 5 at Baildon C of E primary! I really can't believe that this has happened to our school that is so beautiful. I feel so sorry for the teachers that have put effort into the school. I don't know why someone would be so stupid to set it on fire.

Posted by: Caron Kolowiecki, 3.01pm Tuesday: My daughter, Natalie started in year 5 at the school after a stressful 3 months of relocating from the Midlands to Baildon. She was devastated when the school was burned down as we had a similar situation with a secondary school where we used to live and it has taken over 2 years to rebuild it. These mindless idiots don't think of the distress they cause to everyone - the nightmare of organising childcare at short notice, getting everything cleaned up and useable again, the loss of valuable work done by the children, especially in foundation stage as this is work showing a child's development at a most crucial stage. I hope Mr Curtin and the staff can get the school up and running soon and hope the police are pro-active in catching these thoughtless idiots.

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