A GWENT school employing security guards to protect against vandalism says the move has slashed its repair bills.

Officials at Abersychan Comprehensive School took the step in a bid to stop unruly youngsters getting into the site after hours.

And head teacher Peter Scott (pictured) said the move has reaped instant rewards with the vandalism at the school wiped out overnight.

Although he would not be drawn on the cost of the security measures, he stressed that they were "cost effective" because it was no longer paying out for repairs to damaged property.

And Paul Matthews, assistant education director for Torfaen council - which is not contributing to the cost of the security firm - said Abersychan was not the only school to have taken such measures.

He told the Argus: "It is an unpleasant reality that schools do have to spend money to prevent damage to property, money that could be better spent on teaching and learning. "Our view is that schools have to take reasonable precautions and in a number of instances we have assisted in the financing of deterrents."

He added" "They actually save money in the medium term through reduction in damage and vandalism".

At Abersychan, vandals gained access to the school before hurling stones through its windows. The problems increased at weekends and in school holidays.

To crack down on the problem, the school took the step of enlisting a local security firm to patrol the premises every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The security at the school in Old Lane, Abersychan, was also bolstered with the arrival of close circuit surveillance cameras and more are on the way over the Easter period.

Torfaen council underwrites the cost of installing security measures on the expectation schools repay the money within five years with the cash saved from a fall in vandalism. If the council makes a successful bid the CCTV costs could be met with the assistance of National Assembly funding under its capital programme for security measures.

Mr Scott said: "We have taken positive measures to increase security here after school hours and have employed two security guards from a local firm who patrol the site on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We also have had CCTV installed.

"Although it wasn't on a regular basis we did have vandalism at certain times of year, particularly in the school holidays.

"The damage usually caused involved the smashing of windows but we've tackled the problem and the activity has now ended."

He said the school was also tackling the problem of youth crime with a host of after-school activities ranging from sport to computer clubs.