CHILDREN were left heartbroken after they arrived at school to find an act of vandalism had led to the death of their much-loved chickens.
The pupils at Archbishop Benson school in Truro had been caring for the chickens in a specially built run sited next to the playing fields.
But vandals forced the lock on the surrounding fence and the animals were left defenceless against foxes that had been seen prowling the neighbourhood.
Tim Brown, science teacher at the school, said the young pupils arrived in school to find the gate to the run had been forced open and chicken feathers strewn across the fields and playground.
Mr Brown said: "It's the cruelty element that's upsetting – they would have had to fend for themselves.
"I think the children were very sad – they noticed something was wrong straight away because they could see the feathers. I was devastated when I came out here."
The chickens were kept at the school to educate children in animal welfare and to learn first-hand where food comes from.
The children also learnt about agricultural economy as they collected the eggs and sold them to members of staff.
One of the children, seven-year-old Ruan Sinnott, said: "I'm pretty sad our chickens have gone because they got us all the eggs. Everybody liked looking at them."
Classmate Lewis Staddon, 6, said: "They got eaten up by a fox. We saw tonnes of chicken feathers."
Noah Harper, 6, said he hoped the school would be getting some more chickens.
Mr Brown said that the school had increased security in the area and notified the police of the incident. He said the school would carry on keeping chickens in spite of the vandalism. "We won't let them beat us – we want to do it for the children," he said.