Photograph firm sorry for class photo without complex needs pupils

Aboyne Primary School
Tempest has apologised to parents at Aboyne Primary School [BBC]

A photography firm has apologised after parents were offered a choice of whether they wanted class photos with or without pupils with complex needs.

Parents at Aboyne Primary School in Aberdeenshire complained after being sent a link from Tempest Photography.

The company said it deeply regretted any upset it had caused and "sincerely apologised" to affected families.

It said it was "not standard procedure" and it was taking the matter very seriously.

It is understood some class photographs were taken before the pupils with additional support needs were brought in.

Despite pictures then being taken which included all the pupils, parents were still given the option of both.

Tempest, one of the UK's largest school photography firms, said it had spoken to the photographer involved.

In a statement, the firm said it "regretted any upset" caused.

It added: "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.

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

Aberdeenshire Council has also apologised for the incident.

The local authority said the decision to offer alternative pictures had not been taken by the school and links to the photos were immediately removed.

It described the incident as being "completely unacceptable" and said it had raised the issue with Tempest.

A spokesperson said: "While 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.

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

Natalie Pinnell, whose daughter Erin has additional support needs and is a pupil at Aboyne, praised the school for the action that it had taken.

But she said it was "beyond belief" the separate photos were allowed to be taken in the first place.

Natalie Pinnell
Natalie Pinnell said she was 'shocked' her daughter had been 'erased' from the picture [BBC]

She said: "To say I was shocked is a massive understatement.

"I can't understand how a human can think it's ok to effectively give people the choice to erase children from their class and their history."

Scotland's first minister, Humza Yousaf, described the choice of school photos as being "outrageous and shameful" and said it must never happen again at any school.

It comes as actress Sally Phillips told the BBC how her son, who has Down's syndrome, was prevented from playing at a trampoline park due to not having a note from his GP.

Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy, who was the first permanent wheelchair user elected to the Scottish Parliament, described the situation as "horrific".

She recalled an incident at her university graduation where a black cloth was placed across her wheelchair to "cover it up" for her official photo.

Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy
Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy said the 'stigma' against disabled people was 'getting worse in some cases' [PA Media]

Ms Duncan-Glancy told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime the saga should be a "wake up call" for those who doubt the "stigma" against disabled people still exists.

"I thought that the days of deleting disabled people from aspects of society were long behind us, but the fact of the matter is, they're not," she said.

"Across society just now, we know that the stigma against disabled people is rife and in some cases it is getting worse.

"Those children and young people will be wondering why their friends have been taken out of the picture and of course the parents of the children who were removed will be absolutely gutted."

Model and TV personality Katie Price said she was upset when she heard parents had been offered the photos.

Her son, Harvey, 22, has Prader-Willi syndrome, autism and is partially-sighted.

He has frequently been the target of abuse and jokes.

Comedian Frankie Boyle attracted about 500 complaints to Ofcom for jokes made about Harvey, who was eight at the time, on his Channel 4 programme Tramadol Nights in 2011.

Harvey and Katie Price
Katie Price said son Harvey was frequently targeted with jokes and abuse due to his disabilities [PA Media]

Price told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour that children with disabilities should not be "pre-judged".

She said: "Things like that upset me because, at the end of the day, we're all different. Just because you have a disability doesn't mean you should be treated differently.

"I always tell people 'just remember, you might think your life is perfect but one day, one of your family could have an accident or something and become disabled and you have to become their full-time carer.

"So always remember, never judge anything, because it could happen to you. And let's see if you take the mickey then or you exclude them out of photos.

"I just feel really strongly. I think we should all be treated the same."