A mother has launched legal action against a school after staff accidentally recorded themselves saying her daughter’s tracheostomy tube 'made them feel sick' on Facebook Live.
Three female staff were heard talking about six-year-old pupil Willow Musgrave, who has a life-saving tracheostomy - an opening at the front of her neck for a tube to help her breathe.
The women were heard laughing when discussing the pupil in a conversation that was inadvertently broadcast on Facebook Live and was watched by more than 12,000 people.
Willow, who attends St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School in Kettering, Northamptonshire, was born 16 weeks prematurely, and has had a tracheostomy since she was four months old.
She requires 24-hour care, with siblings and neighbours learning how to change her tube if it gets dislodged. If the tube is out for more than 15 minutes it could be fatal.
The teaching staff were heard saying in the conversation, which was broadcast on Facebook on Saturday, that her medical tube “looked really horrible” and “made them feel sick”.
The staff had been using Facebook Live ahead of a school trip.
In the clip, one member of staff was heard talking about the medical support provided for the six-year-old.
“The mask change for Willow. The mask fitting, it's awful,” they said.
When discussing how Willow requires help with her tracheostomy, one said: “It makes me feel queasy. I couldn't do it.”
One staff member said: “I don't like even looking at it,” while another replied: “No, I don't. I know that's really horrible."
At the end of the conversation, one worker said: “You didn't come into this to be changing tracheostomies.”
Willow’s other, Becky Wardiell, 34, is now taking legal action against the school.
The three members of staff have not returned to the school, which has launched an investigation into their comments.
Ms Wardiell, who has four children, said: “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?
"My friend saw it on Facebook and was so outraged she sent me the link. I was so shocked and angry. I think I had every emotion going.
“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.”
The school is part of the Peterborough Diocese Academy Trust. A spokesperson for the trust said: “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."
Ms Wardiell has taken her case to Kettering-based solicitors The Lawyer and The Nurse.
Adam Cresswell, who is representing the family, 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.”