Toddler walked out of nursery on his first day and was found crying in street

A furious mum wants to know her three-year-old managed to get out of his nursery school and wander down a street alone.

Little Jack Hardiman managed to slip his carers on his very first day.

He was found by a stranger wandering down a street, who brought the toddler back to staff at Marpool Nursery and Primary School in Exmouth.

The man said he had seen the child in tears not far from the busy main road asking where his mum was and saying he wanted to go home, reports Devon Live .

The school says it is sorry about the incident and is reviewing security.

But mum Cassandra Hardiman claims they tried to play it down and suggested to her Jack wear a hi-vis vest in future so staff could see him.

She says she will not send him back.

Cassandra said: "It was his very first day at nursery. I didn't leave the school until 9.30am and was picking him up at 12. Then I had a call at 11.05am saying they'd been an incident and police were involved. They said he'd been found in the street.

"I was shocked. My first thought was he's ok and that's more important than anything else. It happened during break time. Apparently he went out through the automatic gates which can't close quickly."


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She added "He saw the gates were open and took the opportunity to leave.

"He managed to get a couple of hundred yards. The school is on Moorfield Road and he was found at the top of there near Bradham Lane which is a main road. He wanted to walk home to find me. Luckily he stayed on the pavement.

"He was seen by a decent chap who alerted the police. He didn't know at first where he'd come from or whether he'd come out of a house."

Cassandra spoke to the school but was not impressed by their account.

"There was not a massive show of concern. I spoke to the head and deputy and they were really playing it down, saying it had only been minutes. The shock of it all only hit me later.

"They said if I came back Wednesday what did I think about staying and playing with him. It was pointed out that maybe he wasn't ready for nursery.

"They said Jack would have to wear a hi-vis jacket as he's a high risk child.

"I don't think he should be labelled, they just need a better system of supervision."

Cassandra says she is lodging a complaint with the governors.

Marpool headteacher Rachel Pattison said: "We’re all really upset about this and we have already reviewed our security and the procedures for vehicle and pedestrian access.

"It was this pupil’s first day and I believe he had already told his mum he didn’t want to come to school. But he was playing on the playground not far from the automatic gate with his older sister who is a pupil here.

"The gate was closing slowly  after being used to access the school. The young pupil ran off but was returned to the school within a couple of minutes. I spoke to the family immediately to apologise and we assured them we would thoroughly review what went wrong.

“The governors have agreed a policy to issue ‘hi-viz’ slips to pupils who are liable to try to leave school whilst they are in the playground so the teachers who are on duty can watch out for them. This didn’t happen in this case because it was the pupil’s first day.”

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