Parents have criticised a Kingswood school’s toilet policy which has reportedly left some pupils going without a drink all day.
King’s Oak Academy, an all-through school on Brook Road, has been refusing to let its secondary-age children go to the toilet outside break times unless they have been given a pass for “medical needs”, according to two mums interviewed by Bristol Live.
Jessica Bowden, whose 12-year-old daughter Eboney is in Year 8, said: “The breaks are not very long, about 20 minutes at 11am, and I think lunchtime is only 30 to 35 minutes. By the time they’ve eaten, a lot of them are not getting time to go to the toilet.
“They’re going home with full water bottles because they’re not drinking. Mine comes home dying of thirst and saying, ‘Oh, I can have a drink now.'”
The school says toilets are “available for students to use throughout the day”, but pupils are encouraged to go before school and at breaktime and lunchtime. These are the times when “all toilet areas are open”.
Principal Katherine Ogden told Bristol Live: “During lesson times, on the upper school site, three toilet locations (one all-gender, and two gender separated) are open. Students with medical needs have toilet passes to allow them to go at any point.”
She added: “Other students, who find that they need to go to the toilet during lesson time, are permitted to go with a note from their teacher.”
Shortly after being approached by Bristol Live on Friday, the school sent a letter to parents including a similar line, with an added qualification: “Other students, who find that they need to go to the toilet during lesson time, are permitted to go, if absolutely necessary, with a note from their teacher.”
Ms Bowden, 42, only found out about the policy this week, but believes it started when the academic year began in September. She says she has seen “50 or 60 parents” of children across Years 7 and 8 complaining about the rule this week on social media.
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She added: “A lot of them said they had contacted or will be contacting the school. A few said their child had got a toilet pass but it runs out shortly.”
Ms Bowden claims Eboney and other pupils without toilet passes have been refused a note when they have needed to use the facilities.
She said: “When I called reception to complain, the school office lady told me it was because some children have caused damage by vandalising the toilets, and some older years have been in there vaping and setting off the fire alarm. I understand that’s a problem, but they need to address that separately, not punish the rest of the school.
“My daughter is not the type of child who says she needs to use the toilet to avoid lessons. Do the teachers need a pass to go to the toilet? I can’t get my head round it.
“One parent told me she was glad she’d seen a Facebook post about it, because she’d been wondering why her son wasn’t drinking anything. When she spoke to him he said, ‘I didn’t want to drink mum, because they won’t let me go to the toilet.'”
Another mum said her daughters, who are in Years 8 and 11, have had requests to use the toilet refused by teachers, which has caused them stress.
She said: “This issue has been going on since they’ve come back in September. It was on September 9 that I asked the school for toilet passes for my children. My daughter in Year 8 finally got one last week but it will only run until the end of term, which is just two weeks away.
“[Before she got the pass] my child in Year 8 had been coming home really ill, with really bad headaches and heatstroke. I realised she wasn’t drinking during the day because of this policy.
“My Year 11 daughter still doesn’t have a pass. She text me today stressed, saying, ‘They won’t give me a toilet pass unless I have a medical note.’ They were told yesterday in assembly that they’re old enough now to control their bladders.
“Especially for girls of an age where they are starting their periods, this should not be allowed. I think it’s just awful that it takes two and half hours [once school starts] before they’re allowed to go to the bathroom. They will not have a drink when they wake up because of this. I’m worried it could cause kidney infections.”
Ms Ogden says a letter was sent to parents and carers on Friday, reminding them of the academy’s “policies and procedures regarding leaving classrooms during lessons”.
She added: “I am also here if any of our parents or carers would like to personally discuss this matter with me.”