Mum 'devastated' after daughter with complex needs omitted from school photos

A photographer working took two separate photos of the P5 class at Aboyne Primary School in Aberdeenshire.

Devastated parents have demanded answers after children with “complex needs” were removed from school photographs.

A photographer working for Tempest Photography took two separate photos of the P5 class at Aboyne Primary School in Aberdeenshire, with children with additional support needs removed from one set.

Parents were then sent a link with both versions to choose from.

The Cornwall-based photography firm – which employs local photographers to take school photos across the UK – has said it “deeply regrets” the hurt caused.

The business initially said it had launched an investigation but has now given reassurances to customers that it “is not standard procedure” and added the company is taking the matter “very seriously”.

Natalie Pinnell, whose daughter has additional support needs and was removed from one of the photos, said it was “beyond belief” that the incident occurred.

“I can’t quite believe that in today’s society this is possible,” she told STV News, “I actually can’t comprehend how it was allowed to happen and I’m just devastated, I just think what message are we sending with that sort of approach.

“We gave parents the choice to delete these children from their class digitally. It was beyond belief to imagine that any human being thinks that’s okay, to allow an option to erase human beings.”

After being alerted about the photographs, Aberdeenshire Council apologised to parents and stated the decision was not taken by the school.

The link to purchase the photos was also immediately removed.

Aberdeenshire Council said: “We are aware that following Aboyne Primary School’s recent school class photographs, links to purchase the pictures included images with and without complex needs provision pupils.

“Whilst this was not a decision taken by the school, we absolutely appreciate the distress and hurt this has caused some parents and carers and we are sincerely sorry.

“The issue has been taken up with the photography company directly as this is totally unacceptable.

“Aboyne is an inclusive school and every single child should be included, engaged and involved in their learning and school experiences.”

Ms Pinnell has now said that she would like answers from Tempest as to how the incident occurred and has called for local authorities to relook at their approved supplier lists.

“I would really like answers, the photography company have made a statement – I don’t feel like it said very much,” she said.

“I don’t have answers as to how this happened, I don’t have answers about how they’re going to make change.

“For me, the key would be to have authorities relook at their approved supplier list and consider if they want to work with a company that has allowed this to happen to vulnerable children and consider their hiring process for companies full stop, so we’re looking at diversity and inclusion if we’re going to put suppliers into school with these children.

“It should never have happened and the level of shock and outrage has been a lot but what it shows is that we’ve got a long, long way to go before we’ve got any form of inclusive society.”

The statement by Tempest Photography said: “Recently, after capturing a class group photograph, one of our photographers took additional images of the class group which omitted some members of the class from the photograph.

“We deeply regret any upset this has caused and would like to sincerely apologise to the parents and children affected.

“We are a family-run business and photograph at schools across the UK and would like to reassure our customers that this is not standard procedure for our company and we are taking this matter very seriously.

“We are committed to implementing meaningful changes to prevent such an occurrence in the future.”

First Minster Humza Yousaf described the situation as “shameful, really dreadful”.

He told the PA news agency: “It should never have happened at all.

“I don’t want to see another single example of that anywhere in Scotland. It’s not acceptable, not right.

“And I’m pleased the council responsible has apologised.”

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