Teachers Caught Making Cruel Comments About Disabled 6-Year-Old On Facebook Live
An outraged mother is taking legal action after teachers at her daughter’s school were caught making cruel comments about the six-year-old’s disability on Facebook Live.
The three staff members of St Andrew’s CofE Primary School in Kettering, England, unknowingly broadcast their chat online on Saturday, September 11, before a school trip.
More than 12,000 people have seen the conversation, which focused on six-year-old Willow Musgrave, who was born 16 weeks premature and has complex health needs that require 24-hour care.
Since she was born, Willow has been assisted by a life-saving tracheostomy in her throat, which helps her breathe.
During their conversation, the teachers discussed how they are asked to provide medical support for children, with one heard saying: ‘The mask change for Willow. The mask fitting, it’s awful.’
Commenting on having to help the six-year-old with her tracheostomy, another said: ‘It makes me feel queasy. I couldn’t do it.’
One teacher said they ‘don’t like even looking at’ the tracheostomy, to which another agreed before adding: ‘I know that’s really horrible.’
Towards the end of the conversation, the teachers laughed as one commented: ‘You didn’t come into this to be changing tracheostomies.’
The teachers were unaware the Facebook Live session that had been running prior to the school trip caught the conversation, but after it was broadcast to thousands of people Willow’s mum, Becky Wardiell, is taking legal action against the school, which is part of Peterborough Diocese Academy Trust.
Mum-of-four Becky commented: ‘Willow can’t defend herself. It’s not her fault she has a tracheostomy. It’s a life or death situation for her. The school drums different values of the week into our children. But then they have teaching staff who speak like that about a child with a disability, what values does that show?’
Becky, who described herself as being ‘so shocked and angry’, was made aware of the video after her friend saw it on Facebook and sent her the link.
She continued: ‘For three adults to stand there and speak about Willow like that is nasty. Willow is the prettiest, happiest little girl. People who are in a position where they care for children shouldn’t talk about her like that just because she has a disability.’
Adam Cresswell, who is representing the family, said while the comments were not ‘intended’ to be shared online, ‘the fact remains that they were’.
In a statement, he said:
Of most concern is the tone of the conversation between the teaching staff which can only be described as incredibly ugly and more than a little unkind.
Within hours the video of the teachers’ conversation had been shared by over 10,000 people but it’s nice to see so many taking to social media to defend Willow, who battles with additional physical and learning needs on a daily basis but is nonetheless one of the happiest little kids you could ever meet.
In the wake of the events, the primary school launched an investigation into the comments and the three staff members have not returned to work.
A spokesperson for the school said it deals with issues ‘as openly and transparently as possible’, acknowledging that ‘over the weekend three staff members, who were together preparing for a school trip, appear to have accidentally shared a brief part of their conversation via Facebook Live.’
While talking about the planning, they discussed how teachers are asked to provide medical support for young people. In doing so, they also referenced one particular case in our school.
Every child who we are able to support from an educational, health and wellbeing perspective is very welcome in our community – irrespective of any challenges they may be facing.
Clearly there are elements of this conversation that should not have taken place, and the fact that the discussion was accidentally shared to a wider audience is also deeply regrettable.
The spokesperson assured that the school has apologised to Willow’s family, and said it will be ‘addressing this in greater depth with the staff members concerned’ as well as looking at ‘what additional training we can provide to help address any barriers about meeting the medical needs of our pupils’.
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