A nursery worker who took a picture of a three-year-old boy while he was undressed and covered in his own excrement has been suspended for 18 months.
Audrey Robertson, who took the cruel photo at Davidson’s Mains Primary before showing it to colleagues, will have to undergo at least 15 days’ training and provide the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) with a “reflective report” when she bids to renew her professional registration.
SSSC officers – who said Robertson’s acts amounted to “abuse” and “exploitation” during a conduct hearing earlier this year – had recommended she be struck off to ensure similar incidents involving other young children would not occur in future. But members of the SSSC conduct sub-committee decided this would be “disproportionate” given the nursery worker had shown remorse.
In their judgement, they agreed Robertson’s actions involved “abuse and neglect” of a young child but said: “In light of her recognition of her responsibility for her failings and her continued involvement in education and development, the sub-committee considered that it would be appropriate to impose conditions on her registration.”
It emerged Robertson took the “humiliating” photo of the toddler at Davidson’s Mains Primary to show his parents what she had to “deal with”.
But she deleted the picture after stunned colleagues told her that taking it was wrong.
The SSSC committee heard how the incident was among a series of acts committed against the youngster by the early years practitioner between August and October last year.
Robertson – subsequently sacked for gross misconduct – is also said to have raised her voice to the boy while he was trying to relieve himself, even though she knew he had difficulty using the toilet.
But committee members said she had shown “regret” for her actions.
“She had been subject to health and financial pressures at the time the misconduct occurred, had apologised for her misconduct and had co-operated with the council in its investigation into her misconduct,” they added.
The decision has sparked shock and anger.
Edinburgh mother-of-two Claire Ward, 32, a former nursery representative at Stockbridge Primary, whose youngest son will soon join the school’s nursery class, said: “I’m disgusted and shocked by what I’ve heard of this. At the very least, she should have been struck off. If I was the mother, I’d want to see her in a cell.
“There are things you can do to a child at that age that stay with them for the rest of their life.”