Able2UK Losers

Company omits disabled children from school photos

Natalie Pinnell with her daughter Erin

A photo form has come under scrutiny after asking a family if they would prefer disabled children to be removed from a school photograph.

Parents of kids attending Aboyne Primary School in Scotland received a link to view a class photo which had three disabled infants blanked out, giving them the opportunity to buy the altered image.

Mum-of-two Natalie Pinnell, 38, was ‘devastated’ when she found out her nine-year-old daughter Erin was taken out of the picture.

She told MailOnline the decision made by Tempest Photography was ‘inhumane’ after her child was ‘erased from history’.

The Cornwall-based photo business is run by millionaire Terence Tempest, 70, who lives in a £3million riverside lodge.

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

'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.'

Pinnell, who runs her own business strategy company in Aboyne, was fuming and deeply hurt when she received two links from Terence Tempest, one showing a class photo with her daughter and one without.

Another class picture from the same school omitted a girl in a wheelchair.

Pinnell continued: '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.'

The school, which has a hub dedicated to disability, has promised to never use the photo company again.

Pinnell said: '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. 

‘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.'

Although she went on to stress ‘it’s not the school’s fault’ going on to 'outpouring of love and support' from the community.

Following a number of criticisms the photo company now only offers one image of the class picture for sale - the one including disabled children!

But Pinnell has been left feeling ‘vulnerable’, encouraging other calls to boycott 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?'

Nine-year-old Lily Nicolson, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was also taken out of his school photograph along with another disabled boy.

Her mum, Lisa Boyd, 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.'

After the incident was investigated by Aberdeenshire Council and gained national publicity Terence Tempest himself said he was ‘heartbroken’ on how his company reacted.

Mr Tempest told the Mail: “It's just unacceptable, I don't know what's happened. It's certainly not a policy of ours. We had a crisis meeting this morning, we are having another one this afternoon.” He said that he did not know why the option had been given to parents to have some of the children deleted and that it could have been the decision of a freelance photographer.

 “Of course I understand how upset the families must be, I would be too. If I was in that position I would want an apology. I don't run the company and I'm in touch with the managing director at the moment and they will decide what to do."

In a statement, Tempest Photography said: “Recently, after capturing a class group photograph, one of our photographers took additional images of the class group which omitted some members of the class from the photograph. We deeply regret any upset this has caused and would like to sincerely apologise to the parents and children affected.

“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.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson told The Mirror : "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.”

[ Initially Tempest Photography told the school they omitted the children from the pictures because it can take time focus on disabled pupils. ]

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