Children return to schools in 'battered and tortured' Ukrainian city of Bucha

ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports on the return to the classroom in the Ukrainian city of Bucha

If the Grad rocket had exploded then school No.17 would have been too badly damaged to rebuild.

As it was, the Russian projectile went through the roof and then out a classroom window without detonating.

The school is in the war-torn suburb of Bucha just north of Kyiv. It’s a battered and tortured neighbourhood that was occupied by the Russians during the early part of the war.

The fighting left all the schools damaged, some irreparably. But school No.17 was patched up thanks to the generosity of the international community in the guise of UNICEF, and thanks to the determination of its Headmaster, Ivan Ptashnyk.

"We know from history that Britain was in the same predicament during World War 2, and they didn’t close the schools," he said.

"We need to stand our ground here on the educational frontline."

Before the war, the school had 2,500 pupils but today only 500 are allowed to attend because that is the capacity of the corridor and basement they use as bomb shelters when the air raid sirens go off.

Most of the school is in darkness to conserve the fuel for the generator, which substitutes for the mains electricity that can’t be relied upon.

School Headmaster Ivan Ptashnyk told ITV News that the people of Bucha 'need to stand our ground here on the educational frontline'

Luckily the classrooms have big windows to let in the daylight.

In nearby school No.1 the heating isn’t working and the children sit in class wearing bobble hats, gloves and overcoats.

Their parents have little choice but to send them in because the power cuts make home schooling nigh on impossible.

As is the case elsewhere in Ukraine, the authorities in Bucha have erected heated tents that have their own electricity.

They’ve become havens for people to warm up and generally recharge their batteries.

Ukrainians are being collectively punished by Russia’s cold war. Just making it to springtime will be a victory of sorts.

But in between this country faces its bleakest winter since World War 2.

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