THE father of a six-year-old girl who walked out of school alone without any of her teachers realising said he was “horrified” at the thought of what could have happened to his daughter.

According to the father of Scarlett Shotton, she spent more than 90 minutes on her own after leaving St Teresa’s RC Primary School, in Darlington, at 3.15pm on Tuesday (October 21) instead of attending her usual tae kwon do class.

John Shotton said she was found shaking with cold behind a shed at home. He had only realised his daughter was not at the class when she failed to emerge with the rest of the children at 4.15pm.

Mr Shotton hit out at the school’s failure to notice that his daughter had left by herself and said the supply teacher in charge of Scarlett’s class claimed there were “too many children” to see where they had all gone at the end of the day.

A spokeswoman for the council, which retains control of St Teresa's, said safety of children was its main concern, but it could not comment on individual cases.

Police were called to the school to search for the year two pupil, but Mr Shotton went home in the hope that she had been able to find her own way and found her with her pet rabbits.

He said: “We had given Scarlett £2 for the class that morning and said we would be there to pick her up.

“But there was no sign of Scarlett – I asked the teacher and she said she wasn’t there. No-one knew where she was.

“I had to call the police myself; the teachers were too busy talking about texting parents to see if anyone had seen her.

“The police wanted me to stay at school but I went home in case and found her shivering and scared.

“I was so relieved to find her. We asked her why she had left school and she said she didn’t want to go to tae kwon do but didn’t dare tell the supply teacher.

“That’s not an excuse for the school. It fills me with horror to think of what could have happened to her.”

He added: “It should never have happened and it should never happen again.”

A statement from Darlington Borough Council on behalf of St Teresa’s School said: “We are aware of the situation - unfortunately we are unable to comment on individual cases.

“The safety of children is our main concern and we will therefore take steps to address parents’ concerns.”