Stevenage Down’s syndrome pupil left behind on school trip

Alex Agard, who was left behind on a school trip, with his mum Rondell

Alex Agard, who was left behind on a school trip, with his mum Rondell - Credit: Archant

A mother of a 12-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome believes her son “could have been run over” after he was left behind on a school trip.

Alex Agard, who also has learning difficulties, had been visiting the Stevenage Swimming Centre with classmates from The Valley School when the coach he arrived in left without him last Monday.

Alex’s mother Rondell said she was told by swimming centre staff afterwards that her son was outside by the St George’s Way dual carriageway for more than 15 minutes looking for the coach.

Mrs Agard was made aware of the incident by the school, which teaches children with special needs in Valley Way, Stevenage, and visited the swimming centre afterwards.

She said she was told by staff there that they had informed the school that Alex had been left behind, with two teachers then sent to collect him.

“I am absolutely appalled by the level of neglect demonstrated by The Valley School,” said Mrs Agard, of Oaks Cross in Stevenage.

“It could have been the last time I ever saw my son. He has no sense of danger so he could have quite easily been run over as he had been left to wander onto the busy dual carriageway or someone could have taken him away.

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“You shouldn’t have to worry for your child’s safety when they are at school. I think this will bother me for a long time about whose hands I put my son into. I hope this gets dealt with in the right way.

The 35-year-old was told by the school that teachers performed a head count before leaving the swimming pool but were unaware of Alex’s absence.

She has now pulled him out of the school and plans to move him to Greenside School in Shephall Green, Stevenage.

David Harrison, headteacher at The Valley School, said: “The school acknowledges that our tight procedures were not followed and this incident should not have occurred. I would like to thank the staff at the swimming pool for looking after our student for a short time until two teachers returned to collect him.

“We made the family aware of the incident and reassured them that he was safe and well and expressed our sincere apologies. We are continuing to work with them to resolve this issue and to support the student.”