A Henry Moore sculpture that has stood outside a school for 60 years has been moved inside the building after thieves tried to steal it for scrap.

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The life-size bronze sculpture of a family, which the artist made for Barclay School in Stevenage in the late 1940s, was installed indoors in December after thieves tried to make off with it in a van in May last year.

Headteacher Janet Beacom said no-one knew of the crime until officers stumbled across it on film.

“What happened, the police discovered that there had been an attempt to steal it from outside the school. They were reviewing some CCTV footage and discovered an attempt to steal it.

“There were some men with a van. The van drove up the outside.

“The thieves wanted it for its scrap metal value. I understand that scrap metal has a high value at the moment.”

The sculpture, which weighs around 500 kilos, was moved into storage after the attempted theft before being repositioned inside the building.

“We would like it to have been left in its original position,” Mrs Beacom said. “It was designed to be displayed outdoors. As far as we are concerned it’s a temporary relocation. We would need to work out specific security at a reasonable cost.”

The sculpture is not the first by the artist to be targeted, a two-tonne bronze reclining figure worth £3m was stolen from the courtyard of the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Herts in 2005.

Anita Feldman, head of collections and exhibitions at the foundation, said moving the Barclay School sculpture was regrettable but sensible.

“The school consulted us before moving Moore’s Family Group, and we support their decision, which is based on valid security concerns.

“It is not always possible to leave an outdoor work where an artist originally sited it, as circumstances change over time. The sculpture will still enjoy a close association with the school in its new location, and can be appreciated by its pupils, staff and visitors for years to come.”

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