Fury as parents offered version of school class photo without complex needs pupils

28 March 2024, 21:40

A council has had to apologise following the incident.
A council has had to apologise following the incident. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

A council has apologised after parents were offered a choice of a class photograph with or without complex needs pupils.

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Furious parents at Aboyne Primary School complained after being sent a link from a photography company offering them the choice of alternative photos.

The council said the the decision was not taken by the school and the link to the photos was immediately removed.

Tempest Photography, one of the biggest school photography firms, said in a statement it was investigating the matter, adding that it had spoken to the photographer involved and the school, BBC Scotland reports.

The firm said: “We are currently investigating the situation with the school, and have no further comment.”

Mother Natalie Pinnell’s daughter Erin was included in one class photo and excluded from the other - the photography firm offered both versions of the photo for sale.

Tempest also took the same approach with two additional support needs pupils in another class.

Ms Pinnell decried the behaviour as “inhumane”, as she told The Press and Journal it felt like her child had been “erased from history”.

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

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Parents at Aboyne Primary complained about the incident.
Parents at Aboyne Primary complained about the incident. Picture: Google Street View

“Me and the other parents just feel devastated beyond belief. It’s actually like a physical pain, having your child removed like that. Thankfully Erin isn’t aware of it, and neither are the other pupils who were removed.”

She wrote in a Facebook post: “This week, a photography company erased my child from a school class photo.

“Why? Was she not aesthetically pleasing enough?

“To say I am disgusted, devastated and absolutely heartbroken is am understatement.”

Aberdeenshire Council said in a statement: "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."

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

Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative MSP, said of the incident: “There are big questions for the company arranging and taking these photos. This is one of the bigger studios working with Scottish schools today, so it’s imperative to find whether this is an isolated incident and ensure it never happens again.”