A mum has spoken of her horror after her four-year-old son was found wandering the streets alone in the pouring rain after escaping from his school.
Alfie Summers managed to walk out of classes through an unlocked gate before crossing several busy roads - without staff realising he was missing.
The reception pupil was found crying for his mum and "soaked to the bone" wearing just his PE kit in the torrential rain.
Police were called and officers phoned around and drove to several local nurseries with Alfie before eventually returning him to the right school.
We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below
‘It’s every parent’s worst nightmare’
Mum-of-four Katrina Deegan, 28, is now demanding to know how her boy managed to escape without staff noticing he had gone.
Katrina, of Hampton, Evesham, said: "It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and anything could have happened to him.
"I’ve had no answers from the school about how this was allowed to happen. He could have been taken or he could have been seriously hurt.
"Apparently he was in a really distressed state and running back and forth across a busy road before a woman found him and called police.
"I dread to think that my little boy could have been taken from me all under the school’s watch where you’re supposed to leave your child with confidence thinking they are safe."
‘I thought I was never going to see Alfie again’
The St Richard’s CofE First School in Evesham, Worcestershire, were alerted after a local resident called police after finding Alfie.
Alfie told his mum he had decided to walk out because a teacher had been "horrible" and shouted at him.
Katrina added: "When I got the phone call from the headteacher I panicked and was full of dread - I thought I was never going to see Alfie again.
"He said there had been a ‘little bit of an incident’ and that Alfie had gone missing and the police were on the way with him.
"When you’re told by a school there has been an incident you expect him to have fallen in the playground and bumped his head - not that he had gone missing.”
She added: "I asked Alfie why he left the school and he said because a teacher was being horrible to him and he wanted to come home to me.
"He’s like any other child, he’s not naughty and doesn’t run away, he is usually as good as gold.
"I am so grateful someone kind found him because I dread to think what could have happened.
"If he had walked for five minutes more he would have been on a busy main road and the street he walked up is busy enough with speeding drivers.
"I went into school today and they were apologetic but couldn’t answer my questions.”
What the school said
Mark Ridlinton, head teacher at St Richard’s CofE First School, has apologised and said they are reviewing their procedures as well as investigating the incident.
He said: "We are extremely sorry that a child went missing during school hours and we are very grateful to West Mercia Police for their support during this incident and that the child was found safe and well.
"We held a meeting with parents to discuss the incident and we are currently reviewing our procedures and investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident in detail.
"We will update all parents once our investigation is concluded and have begun taking action without delay on any issues identified.
"We have increased security on the front playground gate, and the front playground is no longer in use throughout the school day, whilst our investigations are carried out.
"We would like to apologise to the parents and the child for this unacceptable incident and assure all parents that we take our responsibilities extremely seriously and whilst in our care, pupil safety is our top priority."
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.