THE family of a five-year-old boy left behind at a safari park after a school trip have blasted the teachers who organised it.
Owen Paterson was with a group of 300 pupils from Pitcorthie Primary and Nursery, Dunfermline, who visited Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling on Monday.
But when his mother Amanda, 28, went to the school at 3pm to meet him off the bus, teachers told her Owen was missing.
Education chiefs have launched an investigation into the incident, which left Owen unattended for over two hours.
Owen’s grandmother, Sandra McQueen, 51, from Dunfermline, said the family was demanding answers and described the frantic rush to find Owen.
Mrs McQueen spoke to teachers after her daughter telephoned her in a panic.
“I asked if they had phoned the police and they said ‘no’, so I told them I wanted the police involved.”
Owen’s mother got into a car with a teacher and her husband, while four other teachers got into another car and drove to the safari park. Mrs McQueen claims the safari park were first alerted after one of Amanda’s friends contacted them.
“The safari park sent their security staff to look for Owen and he was found about 3:30pm.
“We’re not sure where exactly he was found, but Owen said he was in a play park and the guard had come over to him and asked his name. After that he was taken to their restaurant.
“He’d been missing since the buses left at 1:15pm and no one had any idea where he was.
“Amanda was so relieved. My heart sunk when she first called. He’s her five-year-old boy. Anything could’ve happened to him there, it’s full of wild animals.”
Owen told his mother he had not been frightened.
“I wasn’t scared because I was brave. I went on a pirate ship and on the big slide and then the man with the white jumper and walkie talkie found me and took me to the restaurant. I was happy to see my mummy again.”
Mrs McQueen said: “We’re very angry and we want answers about what happened and why the teachers never did a head count or took a register.
“The school still won’t speak to us so we don’t know what’s going on. But we’re just relieved that Owen was OK in the end.”
Peter McNaughton, head of education and children’s services at the council, said: “We are treating this incident extremely seriously and an investigation has been launched.
“As soon as the child was noted as missing, immediate action was taken to contact Blair Drummond Safari Park and the police.
“We have been in contact with the child’s parents and communication with the family is ongoing.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police in Stirling were called to Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park at 3:30pm on Monday following reports of a missing child.
“Officers attended, however the child was quickly traced and was safely returned to the care of his family.”