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Is it legal for a teacher to deny a child access to a toilet?

(1000 Posts)
NotTheMrMenAgain Fri 31-Mar-17 12:21:06

I have a friend whose DC, age 13, recently soiled themselves in class because the teacher repeatedly refused to allow them to go to the toilet (and were fairly dismissive about it, by the sound of it). It wasn't a small mishap - the rest of the class were dismissed and my friend called to collect DC.
Understandably, DC is mortified and horrified and my friend very upset and angry. There's been a verbal apology from the head of year to my friend, who said how upset the teacher involved was - but no apology from the teacher to the DC - the teacher had since ignored the child/incident.
AIBU to think this simply isn't good enough? My heart goes out to the poor kid, who knows what kind of mark it will leave and what sort of bullying/mockery it will set them up for.
Is it against a child's basic rights to deny them access to a toilet? It seems like cruelty to me. It this a common policy at secondary school? Apparently they aren't allowed to pop to the loo in between classes, only at break/lunch. When I was a teenager my periods were heavy and I wouldn't have made it til break without an accident!

ImperialBlether Fri 31-Mar-17 12:23:55

How horrible for the child.

I suppose if they're a naughty class who are always running out to the toilet and coming back half an hour later, the teacher might have to impose a rule that nobody goes to the toilet in class time. Similarly if the girl was naughty and always making an excuse to leave the room (and lots do this) then the teacher might be used to not believing a request for the toilet.

Otherwise, I think it's very unwise for a teacher to prevent this, particularly in a teenage girl who may well have started her period during class time.

NotTheMrMenAgain Fri 31-Mar-17 12:24:13

Oh dear, this has posted twice - please can someone tell me how to get one deleted?confused

NotTheMrMenAgain Fri 31-Mar-17 12:30:50

Reported the duplicate thread and asked for deletion.
The incident in question was poo-related.

noblegiraffe Fri 31-Mar-17 12:31:27

There may be a school policy to not allow students to go to the toilet in lessons, or toilets may even be locked in some schools. This is usually because toilets have been vandalised or kids arrange to meet up in them during lessons or kids take the mickey and want to go every lesson and it's chaos. So it's an understandable rule. If the school has that rule hopefully they will revisit it in the light of what happened.

As a teacher I would use my discretion if I thought a student was desperate.

How awful for the DC.

Aliveinwanderland Fri 31-Mar-17 12:33:57

My school had a policy that children are not allowed to go to the toilet in lesson time. However I use my discretion and tend to find if a child asks more than once they usually do need it. I get them to make up the time they are out of the room at break which stops those who just want to go for a walk and don't actually need it.

user1471427614 Fri 31-Mar-17 12:35:40

usual policy in most school for all the reasons stated

llangennith Fri 31-Mar-17 12:35:56

Way back when I was at school a girl in my class asked twice to be excused to go to the toilet and was told no. She just quietly walked out anyway and nothing was said about it. She came back to class in a few minutes. No repercussions.
So I always told my DC if they really needed the toilet to ask first but then just walk out.

Aeroflotgirl Fri 31-Mar-17 12:36:00

No its not good enough, and its thoroughly humiliating for the poor child. Access to a toilet is a basic human right, sometimes bowel and bladder cannot be controlled, the child may have a stomach ache, or bad period pains or IBS. The one time a teacher refuses the toilet to a pupil may be the time it really is needed, like what happened in the op.

Trifleorbust Fri 31-Mar-17 12:36:15

It is legal, yes. Students of secondary school age without medical issues should be capable of toileting themselves before school, at break, at lunch and after school. I would usually use my discretion rather than let them soil themselves, but there is nothing illegal about the policy.

foxyloxy78 Fri 31-Mar-17 12:40:39

It is not good enough. A formal apology must be given. Poor child.

stuckwithnowheretogo Fri 31-Mar-17 12:41:33

My DS (14) asked to go to the toilets because there was a really bad smell & it was making him feel sick.
The teacher agreed there was a smell but not enough to warrant him feeling sick so he couldn't leave.
He promptly projectile vomited everywhere (including splashing the teacher).
The pupil next to him had a school bag of mouldy, festering sandwiches - hence the smell.

stuckwithnowheretogo Fri 31-Mar-17 12:42:20

Meant to add - how awful for your DC & hope they receive the appropriate apology.

Instasista Fri 31-Mar-17 12:43:05

I'm really interested in the legal/ illegal angle- did you want to consider suing the school? Or calling the police?

The only way to get anywhere with this is talk to the school surely? I feel for the child though, poor thing

budgiegirl Fri 31-Mar-17 12:47:57

So I always told my DC if they really needed the toilet to ask first but then just walk out

I've told this to my DC too. I totally understand why a teacher may refuse a child who asks to go the the toilet, especially as I'm sure many children take the mickey. But I've advised the DC that if they really must go or there'll be an accident, ask, then go even if the answer is no, and they can deal with the repercussions of ignoring the teacher afterwards.

TinfoilHattie Fri 31-Mar-17 12:51:28

There is a child at my son's school with a bowel condition which means he does often need to use the toilet and cannot wait when he feels the need to go. School has a special card system so when he has to go he just leaves the room and gives the teacher the card as he walks out - he doesn't need to put his hand up or ask permission.

In the absense of a medical condition though - and a properly diagnosed condition I mean - teachers have a very hard time working out who really does need to go to the loo and who is skiving off. 99% of secondary age children should to able to manage their days by going to the loo at break/lunch only.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Fri 31-Mar-17 12:52:14

The thing is, even children who are normally healthy can get digestive issues such as a stomach bug which is what I imagine has happened in this case.

I frequently have to dash to the toilets at work - I'd really struggle if I'd been at a school that had a policy like that.

coragreta Fri 31-Mar-17 12:52:43

We have toilet passes for children with medical issues otherwise they are not allowed.

Morphene Fri 31-Mar-17 12:53:36

good grief, that is appalling.

yet another reason I can't imagine reintegrating my DD into school. How do I explain to her that not only do you have to ask to go to the toilet, but the person in authority over you may deny you, and leave you to shit in your pants in front of your friends.

Happyandhungry Fri 31-Mar-17 12:54:24

That is terrible i will definitely be telling my children to just go if they ask and are told no.

Aeroflotgirl Fri 31-Mar-17 12:55:30

I would make a formal complaint to the school, and expect and apology to my child from the teacher, and that this does not happen to a child again! Its a good idea to tell your child, to walk out even if the answer if no, if they are going to soil themselves. Dignity first. I was refused the toilet when I was 6, and subsequently soiled myself later in class, it still humiliates me over 30 years later.

Aeroflotgirl Fri 31-Mar-17 12:57:42

I sure bet that the teacher would rush to the loo if they were near soiling themselves, they would not pee or poo themselves in front of their class! Somebody without medical conditions can get a sudden attack of diahorrea, or a stomach ache. When it comes you have to go, you cannot hold it in.

VladmirsPoutine Fri 31-Mar-17 12:57:53

How awful for the dc.
It is really a judgement call for teachers and this time teacher made a massive error.
Has the dc since been in the same class as the teacher?

Ironwoman123 Fri 31-Mar-17 12:59:11

What a shame. It would be hard as a teacher to determine who was genuine and who was not. Think I'll teach my children (too young yet) to ask but if it's a case of an accident or going then just to go. I'd hate that to be my child. Poor thing.

Secretariat Fri 31-Mar-17 12:59:46

When I was in 1st year secondary school, about 30 years ago, I remember a girl putting her hand up wanting permission to use the toilet but the teacher kept saying no. It went quiet for a while then she put her hand up again to say she had wet herself.

You could imagine how this classroom full of horrid children reacted. Poor girl, embarrassed and mortified.

The policy still remained though, no toilet breaks during class.

Also if girls were on their period they had to bring a letter in from home or doctor explaining this so they could be excused to go to the toilet.

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