UK

A “devastated” mum has criticised a photography firm for offering to remove children with complex needs from class photos.

Parents and carers at Aboyne Primary School complained after they were sent a link from Tempest Photography offering an alternative choice of class photos with or without the children with additional support needs.

Aberdeenshire Council said as soon as it became aware of the situation it immediately asked the company to remove any images that did not involve the whole class.

The local authority apologised for the incident and acknowledged it would have caused “distress and hurt”.

‘Erasing my child from history’

Natalie Pinnell, whose daughter Erin was among those excluded from a set of photographs, told Sky News: “I actually wanted not to believe it. I opened it several times, and I was like ‘no, no, I must be missing something’.

“And when I couldn’t find any other reason, I reached out to the school and that was the first they had heard of it.

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“They got in touch with the photographer, and it was confirmed that two classes were affected.”

Image:
Ms Pinnell’s daughter Erin. Pic: Natalie Pinnell

Ms Pinnell said the photographer took the photo without the children with complex needs while the youngsters were making their way to the classroom.

She said the photographs in the links sent out by the council all had Tempest Photography branding.

Ms Pinnell said: “I’m devastated – words can’t actually it. It’s been one of the most heartbreaking experiences as a mum to watch an adult give other adults the option to erase my child from history basically.

“It’s been an absolutely devastating experience.”

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‘Shame on you’

Ms Pinnell said the school and the local community have been “incredible” in terms of support, but that does not take away “the damage that’s been done”.

Speaking directly about the photo firm, Ms Pinnell said: “Shame on you, that’s the first thing I would want to say. [Erin] is a human being and she’s beautiful.

“And the second thing I would say is, please do some training on diversity and inclusion.

“It cannot be allowed to happen. It’s a very distressing thing to talk about and the only reason I’m doing this is to shine a light on it and make sure that no other family ever experiences that because it’s just not acceptable at all.”

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Cornwall-based Tempest Photography – which employs local photographers to take school photos across the UK – has been contacted for comment.

‘This is totally unacceptable’

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson 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.”

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