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Highcliffe School pupils 'refused toilet breaks' during lessons, parents claim

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PUPILS at Highcliffe School have been stopped from using the toilet during lesson time, outraged parents have claimed.

A string of parents have complained on social media that their children had been told by teachers they were no longer allowed to leave lessons to go to the loo.

It was even alleged that one pupil was “humiliated” in front of the class by a teacher, who asked her loudly: “Why can’t you just hold it in?”

Highcliffe School “discourages” youngsters leaving lessons for a toilet break
Highcliffe School “discourages” youngsters leaving lessons for a toilet break

Amid reportedly confused messages, the school has insisted the new policy is to “discourage” youngsters leaving lessons for a toilet break.

One parent, who wanted to remain anonymous after her son had been refused a loo break, slammed the decision, saying youngsters could have to wait up to two hours for relief.

“My child is someone for whom it takes a lot to raise his hand in class and ask to go,” she said.

“Going to the toilet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

“This is going to cause a lot of children anxiety and stress, and I think this shows a real lack of respect.

“There are a number of reasons why a child may need to go urgently, and when you consider they start lessons at 9am and don’t have a break until 11am, that is a long time to hold it in.

“And obviously it’s extremely bad for them to do so and can lead to UTIs and kidney infections.

“When I phoned the school to discuss the issue I was told by the pastoral lead for the year group that this was a new policy to stop kids from bunking off – yet no parents had been informed.

“Surely they know who these kids are. They can see from their planners how many times they have been signed out.”

She said she later received a contradictory email from the assistant head stating this was not school policy, and rather children were being “discouraged” from taking toilet breaks in lessons.

“There seems to be a real breakdown in communication between the head of staff and the rest of the staff,” she said.

Another parent told the A&T the school had said that teachers would be using their discretion to try to stamp out the minority of pupils who were trying to get out of class.

An email from assistant head Edward Davies, seen by the A&T, said children are being “discouraged” from leaving lessons to use the toilet.

He stated the school does not prohibit regular toilet breaks or the filling of water bottles during lessons.

During Covid, when restrictions severely limited the number of students who could be in a toilet at one time, the school adopted a “looser approach” to leaving lessons for the toilet, Mr Davies explained.

However, as this was no longer the case, students were once again expected to remain in class for the entire lesson.

The email clarified that those students with medical or special educational needs have access to an exit card if they need it, while children who are desperate to go or who may be on their menstrual cycle are also permitted to leave.

Mr Davies argued that pupils should be able to use the five-minute window between lessons to use the toilet.

But parents have argued that fitting it in with potentially making their way from one side of the school to the other was impossible.

Students have their planners signed when they leave class so their absence can be logged, Mr Davies said, which enabled the school to work with those who are frequently leaving class.

This could be a “trigger” for a call home to get further support and, in some circumstances, medical assistance.

Highcliffe School was approached by the A&T for comment.

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