SCHOOLGIRLS were left screaming in horror as a plague of rats led to a top girls' school calling in the exterminators.

The pests were seen scurrying across the playing fields at Beaconsfield High School, Wattleton Road, and next to the pond as a mild winter led to an increase in numbers. Other sightings near to the kitchens and the bins.

Parents of pupils were sent a letter last week informing them of the situation after council exterminators were called in.

Dave Preston, deputy head, said: "There have always been times when we have had rats here because of the ponds on the site.

"This is obviously not something we wanted to have on the site and some girls have screamed at them.

"The proximity of the Arjo Wiggins site could have contributed to the problem and it is also to do with the mild winter."

The firm building on the site strongly deny causing the problem.

The council exterminators laid traps and Mr Preston added that the problem had diminished since their visit.

He added: "Since the traps were laid the number of rats on site has been reduced.

"If there is any recurrence of the problem we will not hesitate to call the council."

Ann Main, a parent at the school, said that she was not surprised at the presence of rats on the site.

She added: "Considering all the denuding that has gone on at the CALA Homes site this does not surprise me."

A spokesman from CALA Homes, the developers carrying out works next to the school, said: "We have not done any building work that has disturbed any drains or cellars that may upset rats. This problem is not emanating from our site."