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Parents outraged as photography firm offers to remove disabled children from school pictures

Parents were left ‘devastated’ after they were offered a version of a primary school class photo with children with ‘complex needs’ removed (stock image)   (PA Archive)
Parents were left ‘devastated’ after they were offered a version of a primary school class photo with children with ‘complex needs’ removed (stock image) (PA Archive)

Parents were left “devastated” after they were offered a version of a primary school class photo with children with “complex needs” removed.

Those removed from the pictures included a nine-year-old girl with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair and a girl with additional support needs (ASN).

One mother whose daughter had been removed from one set of photos said it felt like having her child “erased from history”.

The offer was given by Cornwall-based firm Tempest Photography – which employs local photographers to take school photos across the UK.

A photographer took two separate photos of a class at Aboyne Primary School in Aberdeenshire - which has a dedicated additional needs hub - with children with ASN reportedly removed from one set.

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

Have you been affected by this? Email athena.stavrou@independent.co.uk

Natalie Pinnell, whose daughter Erin was among those excluded, told the Press and Journal: “I am absolutely heartbroken. Furious.”

She added: “To give people the option to erase my daughter from history for the sake of optics is frankly inhumane. One of the cruellest things that I’ve ever experienced.

“Me and the other parents just feel devastated beyond belief.”

She told the MailOnline that while Erin was thankfully unaware of the situation, she is “dreading” having to explain the incident to her sister.

“It has been a hard thing to process as a family. As a mum I want to champion her, and to have people thinking she is erasable is just devastating beyond belief,” she told the paper.

She added: “It’s been the most traumatic experience as a family that we have felt.

“I really wanted to believe there was a different reason. I was trying to look for a reason why someone would have made that decision.

“We have mourned. We have hurt. I feel like I haven’t even hit the bottom of my shock. It’s been absolutely devastating.”

A second parent, Lisa Boyd, also told the newspaper her daughter Lily, a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, was removed from an alternative photo,

She added that the nine-year-old’s twin sister was “devastated”.

“Her twin sister, Iona, is in a different class and I only got one photo for that class but I got two for Lily’s – one without my kid in it. It’s horrendous,” she told the MailOnline.

Both parents were keen to emphasise the school itself was an inclusive setting and that they were not to blame for the incident.

Aberdeenshire Council has since apologised to parents, stating the decision was not taken by the school and has immediately removed the link to the photos.

A 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.”

Tempest Photography also said it had launched an investigation into the matter stating: “We are currently investigating the situation with the school, and have no further comment.”