A school common room has been gutted by arsonists.

The vandals broke into the sixth-form college common room at The Grove, in Darwell Close, St Leonards, on New Year's Eve.

They tore furniture from the building and scattered them in the playground before starting the fire.

More than 20 firefighters and police were called at about 3pm.

Station officer Michael Meik said: "The whole of the room was gutted and it was lucky the fire did not spread to the rest of the building. This was down to the superb efforts of the firefighters.

"The cause of the fire is still under investigation and we will know more when the results are back from the fire investigation teams."

Hastings CID and fire investigation officers were today piecing together forensic evidence at the scene.

Detective Sergeant Colin Jaques said: "It is a secluded area and with it being New Year's Eve it was very quiet. There's no access to anything there and the school backs on to playing fields.

"It was just a mindless act and has destroyed something the students all used."

Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Roy Stephenson on 0845 6070999, ext 60269.