AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after a three-year-old “spiderboy” escaped from his nursery – by scaling a 7ft spiked fence.
Little Ashton Addison was left alone by staff at Drakies Nursery, Inverness, after he went to the toilet as the class prepared to leave for a trip to the library.
Ashton scaled the fence surrounding Drakies primary and wandered into a housing estate, where he was found crying by a passerby who returned him to his teachers.
The case will be reported to the Care Commission, which regulates nurseries, and Ashton’s horrified mother, Lisa Mackenzie, 23, said the situation could have ended badly.
She said: “I am just so grateful he is alright, in one piece and I’m also relieved that a kind, caring person picked him up and took him back to the school.
“It could have been so much worse, just thinking about the fence itself.
“The fence is always closed to prevent children from leaving the school. I was so shocked to find out Ashton had managed to climb it.
“The fence itself is around 7ft and has spikes on top. I still can’t believe he managed to climb it. The situation could have been a lot worse just with the fence itself, he could have fallen off it or injured himself on the spikes.
“But he is a really clever little boy, and is really switched on, so it would make sense in that situation, he would go to the place where I drop him off and pick him up and try to get back to me.”
Lisa criticised the school for not letting her know about her son’s disappearing act immediately.
She said: “I was only told about what happened when I came to pick Ashton up at 2.45pm. I just wanted to hold him and know that he was safe and the school should have phoned me in the first place.”
Lisa believes the mistake occurred because a new child recently joined the class but had not been added to the register.
The meant the class headcount was one lower than it should have been, making it possible for a child to go missing unnoticed.
She said: “The school told me the children were going from the nursery classroom to the library and when they arrived a head count was to be done.
“However the nursery teachers counted 18 heads and thought all the children had been accounted for. But that was wrong, there were actually 19 children – but because the new child wasn’t added to the register in the first place, the teachers weren’t aware Ashton was missing.”
Lisa, who also has a one-year-old daughter called Heidi, added: “When I was told what happened I just burst out crying, just all the ‘what ifs’ run through your mind. I was in total shock.
“I’m disappointed and devastated it had to happen to begin with. It would have been awful to return to the school and Ashton not be there, which is what could have happened if the woman hadn’t found him.”
A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “On Monday afternoon a member of the public found a child from Drakies Nursery walking along the road after apparently climbing a small fence around the nursery and then climbing a secure 7ft mesh fence to leave the school grounds.
“The headteacher has had a meeting with the child’s mother to discuss what happened and is carrying out a thorough investigation which will be reported to the Care Commission. In the meantime, the school has taken immediate action to ensure additional safeguards to those that are already in place.”