Pupils at a Whitehaven school have been left devastated after their much-loved outdoor learning area was hit by a suspected arson attack.

And they are seeking the public's support to help them rebuild.

Hensingham Primary School reception pupils use the woodland area in their grounds to explore and learn about the nature.

But the excitement and anticipation of their latest visit turned to sorrow when they discovered the palettes, cable reels, tyres and other items they used for seating had been reduced to ash since their last outdoor lesson.

Now the school is appealing for help to restock the area, but proposals to expand it are having to be reconsidered, and staff have been forced to question the overall safety of the outdoor space.

Reception teacher Emma Burdon takes her 28 pupils to the woodland learning area weekly.

She said: "We call it adventuring. The children get their wellies and their waterproofs on and we got up. It's a place to learn in a different environment."

The youngsters experience everything from bug hunts and lessons on wildlife to outdoor literacy learning in the open space, and they get to enjoy snacks such as sandwiches and hot chocolate. It is also used occasionally by other pupils in the school.

Last week, the reception class was making the most of the sunny weather and had bought ice lollies to eat in the woods when they discovered that their seating materials had been reduced to ash and the area strewn with rubbish.

Mrs Burdon said: "The children were devastated. It's an extremely important resource for the school.

"A lot of children don't get to play out anymore. For a lot of the pupils it's the only time they get out in nature and they get a lot out of it. It's an essential part of the curriculum."

The school is keen to hear from anyone with palettes, tyres, cable reels or similar materials they can donate for the children to use.

It is also calling on those responsible for the fire, and anyone who might consider trespassing on school grounds, to consider the impact on the children.