Vandals who decapitated a school’s pair of pet ducks and kept the their heads as gruesome mementoes have left a class of four-year-old children distraught.
The ducks, named Dippy and Happy Feet, were found dead by staff at Sandon Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire.
The birds’ heads appeared to have been hacked off with a blunt instrument.
Headteacher Rachel Beckett, 42, said: "This is an appalling attack and one which has left the children devastated.
"The staff and students are very shocked. What makes it so sad it that these ducks were cared for by our youngest students, who have only just started school. They are finding it hard to deal with."
Each year group at the school have birds assigned to them which they care for, and the ducks belonged to the four and five-year-old pupils in the reception class.
The attack is believed to have been carried out by two 12-year-old boys, who were seen on the school grounds chasing the ducks on the day before Dippy and Happy Feet were found dead.
When school staff checked on the birds after the half term break, they found the ducks had been decapitated, but the heads could not be found.
Teachers at the school have sensitively explained to the children what has happened but the youngsters have been left in tears.
Rachel said: "We respect our children's intelligence, and have explained that the ducks are no longer with us but the children have found it very upsetting."
"The students get so much out of our farm. They clean out and feed the birds and they sell the eggs. They love them."
The farm at the school opened in September and the ducks, which had been donated by a parent of a pupil at the school, had been kept in a coop in a secure compound, surrounded by high fencing, along with six chickens and two goats.
The farm was locked over half-term with parents and staff pitching in to look after the animals.
Beckett said: "The community all help out looking after our animals, and this horrific incident has left everyone stunned. Who does such a thing like this?"
"The police think this must have been premeditated because the pen is so secure. In the mean time we will be securing the farm to make sure nothing like this happens again."
Year six student Adam Dhorley, aged 10, added: "It's disgusting that someone took the heads. I feel sorry for reception because they were looking after them. They are all really sad."
The school are now left fearing for the safety of their two goats Delilah and Boomer, which have been sent away while the staff make the site more secure, with additional fencing and CCTV.
A police spokesman said: "Police were called at around 3.15pm on Saturday to attend the school following reports of two boys, aged around 12, in the school grounds chasing the ducks and chickens.
"We received a further call yesterday at 10.20am. Two ducks had been found dead. Local officers have been made aware."