Kettering mum's fury after school staff accidentally record cruel views on daughter's tracheostomy

A video of their conversation has been viewed more than 12,000 times

By Sam Wildman
Friday, 17th September 2021, 2:26 pm
Willow Musgrave
Willow Musgrave

A Kettering school has apologised after employees accidentally broadcast a conversation about how potentially helping with a young pupil's tracheostomy made them feel sick.

Three workers at St Andrew's CofE Primary School didn't realise they were inadvertently recording themselves on Facebook Live when they made several comments about six-year-old Willow Musgrave.

In the video, in which Willow was audibly named and has since been viewed 12,000 times online, one worker said: "I don't like even looking at it."

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The school has since apologised to Willow's mum, Becky Wardiell, who has been left furious by the employees' very public discussion.

The mum-of-four told the Northants Telegraph: "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?"

The teaching staff involved were preparing for a school trip at the weekend when one of them accidentally went live on Facebook for a whole minute without realising.

In the clip they discussed how teachers are asked to provide medical support for children with one heard to say: "The mask change for Willow. The mask fitting, it's awful."

Talking about helping with her tracheostomy, one said: "It makes me feel queasy. I couldn't do it."

Another said: "I don't like even looking at it."

One replied: "No I don't. I know that's really horrible."

And towards the end of the conversation laughter followed when one said: "You didn't come into this to be changing tracheostomies."

Staff are not forced to be involved in medical help with tracheostomies and have a choice after completing training.

The video was later sent to a stunned Becky by a friend who had seen it online.

The 34-year-old said: "I was so shocked and angry. I think I had every emotion going.

"How can you say a six-year-old child makes you feel sick?"

It's understood the staff involved have not returned to the Grafton Street school, which is part of the Peterborough Diocese Academy Trust, since the video was broadcast.

A spokesman for the school said: "Our school has a very strong community. We celebrate our successes collectively, and, when something happens that doesn’t meet the high standards that we set ourselves, we deal with those issues as openly and transparently as possible.

"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.

"We have apologised to the family concerned, and we will we be addressing this in greater depth with the staff members concerned. We will also look at what additional training we can provide to help address any barriers about meeting the medical needs of our pupils."

Willow, who is in Year 2, was born prematurely at 24 weeks and spent the first 19 months of her life in hospital.

She has had a tracheostomy since the age of four months and requires 24-hour care, with siblings and neighbours learning how to change her tube if it is accidentally dislodged. The tube being out for more than 15 minutes could be fatal.

The happy youngster is well-known around the town and other children have drawn pictures for her since the incident.

Becky said other parents at the school are angry, adding that she believes the incident is being brushed under the carpet.

She said: "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."

Becky is now being helped in the fallout from the video for free by legal firm The Lawyer and The Nurse Ltd, a Kettering-based advocacy for vulnerable children and adults.

Lawyer Adam Cresswell from the firm said: “I fully accept that it was clearly never the intention for such cruel views to be shared on social media, but the fact remains that they were.

"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."