Mother of child with complex needs says omitting pupils from photo ‘mindless’

 (Haley Woodward)
(Haley Woodward)

A mother-of-three whose daughter with complex needs was omitted from a class photo said it was “mindless and cruel” after hearing the same thing had happened at another school.

Haley Woodward, 38, from Walkington, East Yorkshire, said her feelings of anger and disappointment returned after it emerged parents at a school in Aberdeenshire had been offered the choice to purchase class photos with or without children with complex needs in them.

The parents of children at Aboyne Primary School received a link from photography firm Tempest Photography which offered alternative photos.

Ms Woodward said a similar incident happened in spring 2023 at Weeth Primary School in Camborne, Cornwall, where her 10-year-old daughter Claire was a pupil.

She said she was given a link to two different class photos – one with Claire and one without.

“We were quite taken aback and we were shocked,” she said.

“I wish I had pushed it a bit more at the time, but when you have a child with additional needs everything is a battle and everything is a fight.

“It was another fight that we just didn’t have.”

Ms Woodward, who has since relocated to Yorkshire, said she initially “moved on” from the issue, but said the latest incident brought back feelings of anger.

I wish I had pushed it a bit more at the time, but when you have a child with additional needs everything is a battle and everything is a fight

Haley Woodward

“It brings it back up and you find yourself angry again. It brings back disappointment more than anything,” she said.

Ms Woodward said she empathises with the parents of Aboyne Primary, adding: “When everything’s a battle and you’re fighting for everything for (your children), it’s just another thing and it shouldn’t have happened.

“It just feels really mindless and cruel.”

Ms Woodward said she does not know why her daughter was omitted from one of the class photos.

Tempest Photography responded to Ms Woodward’s incident and said Claire had been called to take a photo “two minutes after” her cohort, which was out of the photographer’s control.

A spokesperson at Tempest Photography said: “There were two different photographs in this case because the girl concerned was brought into the line-up two minutes after the first picture was taken.

“Our photographer does not know why this was the case.

“She did not decide who should be in the picture, and she did not suggest that anyone should be included or excluded.

“Her role was to take the photographs as requested and then share them with the school.”

The spokesperson added: “We are truly sorry to hear the girl’s mother is distressed about what happened, but this case is significantly different from the situation at Aboyne Primary School for which we have apologised.”

Weeth Primary School and Cornwall Council have been contacted for comment.