Girl, 3, walks out of nursery and crosses four roads alone - because she didn't want pork chops for dinner
By JAYA NARAIN - More by this author » Last updated at 17:12pm on 21st January 2008 Comments (13)
Leonie Terry decided to give school dinners a miss and make her way home across four roads. She was in tears when a passer-by eventually stopped her
When faced with pork chops for her school dinner, three-year-old Leonie Terry was not a happy pupil.
But instead of simply asking for something different, Leonie decided to take herself home for lunch almost half a mile away.
She wandered out of the school gates and down the street towards her house before crossing four roads on her own.
Leonie had walked around a quarter of a mile and was heading towards a busy dual carriageway when luckily a passer-by spotted her and escorted safely back to school.
Now a major inquiry is under way to establish how a young child was permitted to walk out of a busy school at lunchtime.
The youngster was spotted crossing a road by Gemma Bailey, 24, manager of a nearby estate agent.
She said: "I saw this little girl run past in school uniform and then across a road on her own so I ran after her and brought her back to the shop.
"She didn't have a coat or bag with her. When we phoned the school they said they didn't even know she was missing."
Leonie's expedition for her lunch had taken the daring youngster almost a quarter of a mile from her primary school.
She is believed to have been missing from Aspinal primary school in Gorton, Greater Manchester for at least 20 minutes.
Now her stunned parents are demanding answers as to how a young pupil was able to walk out of a school so easily.
Her parents are furious and claim the school did not contact them to tell them Leonie was missing until she had been returned there.
Mr Terry, 44, said: "Not only were the gates left open but the school didn't call the police or ourselves to let us know she was missing. "They said they thought she'd disappeared from the dinner queue while one of teachers was dealing with another child and they went to look for her in the toilets."
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"Not only were the gates left open but what angers me most is that the school didn't call the police or ourselves to let us know she was missing." He said: "It's only a small school, how long were they planning to wait before they called someone?" The couple received a phone call at about 12.10pm on Wednesday.
Nursery children start queuing for lunch at around 11.50am , said Mr Terry, although his daughter claims she left school before they lined-up.
Leonie wandered out of open gates at Aspinal School in Manchester
"We need to know we can trust the people we're leaving our daughter with," said Mr Terry.
"The school has apologised and assured us the gates are now locked during school hours but it's no good waiting until something happens to act – this could have had tragic consequences." Her mother Michelle Ladkin, 21, said Leonie had shown her the route she took and told them that she looked both ways when crossing the roads.
Leonie said: "I wanted to go home because I don't like the school dinner."
Headteacher at Aspinal primary school, Neil Flint, said they were treating the incident extremely seriously.
"The safety of pupils in school is of paramount importance to us and we take very seriously any incident where this is compromised.
"Over the last few years we have invested heavily in routines and perimeter fencing to ensure pupil safety.
"It appears however that on Wednesday a child left the premises during the lunchtime break through a gate that should have been closed, and had been checked earlier that morning.
"The child's absence was noticed immediately by a teacher who ensured that the child was safely returned to school. The teacher was assisted in this by a member of the local community." Mr Flint said: "Obviously, a detailed investigation is underway to determine how the incident occurred, procedures have been reviewed and the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that this never happens again."