Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-‘you’ve-erased-my-girl-from-history’:-mothers’-fury-after-photo-firm-offers-to-delete-disabled-children-from-class-photo,-with-a-youngster-in-a-wheelchair-among-those-removed-from-school-pictureAlert – ‘You’ve erased my girl from history’: Mothers’ fury after photo firm offers to DELETE disabled children from class photo, with a youngster in a wheelchair among those removed from school picture

Mothers have been left fuming after a photography firm offered to remove disabled children and those with additional support needs from class photos.

Three children at Aboyne Primary School in Scotland were removed from images sent via an internet link, giving parents the option to order a photo without them in it. 

Businesswoman mother-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, told the decision to omit her nine-year-old daughter Erin from her class photo had ‘devastated’ their family.

She described the decision taken by Cornwall-based Tempest Photography as ‘inhumane’ and said her child had been ‘erased from history’. The company says it is investigating. 

Ms Pinnell said: ‘You can’t erase them because they’re inconvenient. It’s just not OK.

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Mother-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, told  the decision to omit her nine-year-old daughter Erin (pictured together) from her class photo had 'devastated' their family

Mother-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, told the decision to omit her nine-year-old daughter Erin (pictured together) from her class photo had ‘devastated’ their family

Erin's mother Natalie told : 'You can't erase them because they're inconvenient. It's just not OK'

Erin’s mother Natalie told : ‘You can’t erase them because they’re inconvenient. It’s just not OK’

Lisa Boyd's nine-year-old daughter Lily Nicolson (pictured), who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was also omitted from one of the class photos, along with another boy

Lisa Boyd’s nine-year-old daughter Lily Nicolson (pictured), who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was also omitted from one of the class photos, along with another boy

‘It’s devastating to have your child be erased from a photo or give parents a choice whether she should or should not be included. 

‘She is the most beautiful human being. Who could do this?

‘I’m grateful that she’s not aware of it because the damage that would do to her self-esteem would be devastating.  

‘But I’m having to tell my other daughter about what’s happening to her sister. I’m not sure I’m going to sleep tonight.’

Natalie, who runs a business management and strategy company in Aboyne, said she was left fuming after she got an email from the school with two photo links – one that included her daughter and one that didn’t. 

Another class that had a disabled girl in a wheelchair also had two photos – one with the schoolgirl and one without.

Natalie added: ‘I queried it with the school and they queried it with the photographer. He said ”yes, that’s what we have done.”

‘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.

‘The worst part was when I was talking to a friend about what happened and she found that there were two links for her daughter.’

Natalie said the school, which has a dedicated additional needs hub, had vowed never to use the company again.

She added: ‘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. 

Natalie described the decision taken by Cornwall-based Tempest Photography as 'inhumane' and said her child had been 'erased from history'. Pictured: Nine-year-old Erin Pinnell

Natalie described the decision taken by Cornwall-based Tempest Photography as ‘inhumane’ and said her child had been ‘erased from history’. Pictured: Nine-year-old Erin Pinnell

Three children at Aboyne Primary School (pictured) in Scotland were removed from images sent via an internet link, giving parents the option to order a photo without them in it

Three children at Aboyne Primary School (pictured) in Scotland were removed from images sent via an internet link, giving parents the option to order a photo without them in it

‘To give parents a choice whether or not to include one individual child because she doesn’t fit in with it all is beyond comprehension.’

The 38-year-old said it ‘undermines’ all the school’s work.

Although the school apologised to Natalie, she was keen to emphasise ‘it’s not the school’s fault’ and also praised the ‘outpouring of love and support’ from the community.

She said parents had rallied around her and now there is only one version of the image available to buy.

Yet she worries whether the company will still send the version without her daughter to parents who have ordered it.

The ‘painful’ experience has left her feeling ‘vulnerable’ and she said she ‘wholeheartedly supported’ calls for schools to cut ties with Tempest. 

She said: ‘This company has a very big holding in running schools’ photographs.

‘I cannot allow another family to experience the pain that we experienced, that other parents can include or not include our daughter,

‘A lot of parents in the community have decided not to buy the photographs.

‘I would like some answers. It’s very painful [and] upsetting. What are [Tempest] going to do to rectify it? What are the authorities going to do about the contract?’

Natalie wasn’t the only mother outraged by the shocking decision.

Lisa Boyd’s nine-year-old daughter Lily Nicolson, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was also omitted from one of the class photos, along with another boy. 

She said: ‘This is clear discrimination and shouldn’t happen in a school or anywhere.

‘It is the worst that Lily has been treated in her entire life. The school is so inclusive, Lily is included in everything the school does.

‘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.’

Ms Boyd said the reason the photographer gave to the school initially was that it can take time to get some children focused. 

Aberdeenshire Council last night said it had taken the matter up with Tempest Photography, the company responsible. 

The Council said the decision to offer images ‘with and without complex needs provision pupils’ was not taken by the school.

A spokesman said: ‘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.’

Tempest was contacted but it told BBC Scotland it was investigating the matter and there would be no comment at this stage.