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Toilet during lesson time

(51 Posts)
iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 10:17:43

As a new year 5 teacher I'm currently teaching a very difficult class. They use needing the toilet as an excuse to avoid work and I tend to sometimes have as many as 5 wanting to go one after the other. Am I allowed to deny a child the toilet? Or do they have rights to go to the toilet during lessons when they ask? Is there anything legally saying I cannot refuse? Do other KS2 teachers say no? or do you always allow them?

jamdonut Sun 21-May-17 10:56:39

I'm currently a year 2 TA, about to move to Year 6 in September (!)

I think you can request that they go at break times, and certainly query their need to go during lesson time, especially during input. Our teachers usually ask that they hang on till input is finished and they are starting activities. Unless, of course, it is obvious someone really needs to go urgently.

Only let one person go at a time. Any further requesters must wait till the other returns. A lot depends on your school layout. If like our school the toilets are at the other end of a long corridor, the chance for misbehaviour is greater than if the toilets are in close proximity to the classroom.

I think it is a difficult situation...learning disrupted ,child in possible discomfort ( or even an ' accident' ), or potential misbehaviour?

For all those who say it is a basic human many of you have to wait before you can leave your post at work? I'll bet, ( like most school staff) that a lot of you have to wait for someone to be able to cover you or wait for your break?

iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 11:13:04

Good points .

I do not like the idea of refusing but it is getting out of hand. On Friday I had 3 girls ask in the first 15 minutes after break time. You are right I do have to hold on if I need a wee, I'm not lucky enough to have a TA and they are 9 and 10.

Ilovewheelychairs Sun 21-May-17 11:17:20

We have a 'not for one hour after break/start of school policy' here. The children know that if they ask to in the first hour after school begins or in the hour after break/lunch they will be refused. Obviously if child is openly desperate then we let them go, but this deters much of the asking. This was put in place with the consultation of parents too; if a child is anxious or has a UTI or whatever, then they have a pass which allows them to go whenever. Works okay for us.

viques Sun 21-May-17 11:22:51

You are teaching Y5 girls. I am not saying it is, because they could be trying it on, but it is possible that they are having their period and would rather go to the lav when it is quieter. what arrangements does your school put in place to support year 5 and 6 girls who are menstruating? at one school I worked in I introduced a period letter which was sent to all 5 and 6 girls and their parents at the start of the school year explaining the arrangements we had set up, eg that they could use the toilet next to the medical room/office where there was a sink and a bin, and where and who they could ask for emergency supplies (we had made up packs of cheap new pants, spare pads and wet wipes). Does your school have anything like that in place, if not, perhaps you can suggest it .

iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 11:24:27


I think I will inform the class tomorrow that I will not be letting them go to the toilet from now on and to go at break times. I will also ensure parents know that if their child has a medical reason to write a note.

DoorwayToNorway Sun 21-May-17 11:25:28

I have a very difficult year 10 class. I teach ESL abroad. I stepped in because they have been through three English teachers in one year. They are the type of class that regular parents meetings and interventions are called. When I started teaching them, piss taking toilet breaks were a thing. There's not really any particular rules in the school. They are not allowed to go in first period. I realised they were taking the piss. Usually you can tell if someone is in a real need or just looking for an excuse to get out of the classroom. I usually say they have an one strike and you're out rule. So go and come back quickly without problems and don't make an regular habit then I'm likely to let them go when they need to. If they mess about they are not likely to be be given another chance. I have one student who asked to go last lesson, he's one of the more difficult ones. He didn't ask again but I could see he was in obvious discomfort so I said for him to go quickly. You have use your judgement and make it very clear that toilet breaks need to be done when needed and not become a feature of your classroom. The other thing is figuring out what it is they want to escape from. My year 10 boys (yes it's only the boys in the class) do not thrive on too much teacher led learning, they need different activities or incentives to pay attention to the instruction. This has greatly reduced the toilet requests.
Settling into your own routine and building up trust filled relationships takes time.

yellowismyfavourite Sun 21-May-17 11:26:44

I usually say 'ask me again in 5 minutes ' those that really need it clock watch those that don't usually forget or wait for ages!

Rockhopper81 Sun 21-May-17 13:13:42

I get that it's really tricky - I tell my Year 1s to "ask me again when you're desperate/really need to go". It generally works well - they haven't yet learned that saying they're desperate right then would solve that problem. smile

I think instigating a time frame - as mentioned above - of an hour from breaks is a good idea, unless there's a medical need or a note from home, obviously.

iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 13:42:17

Going to suggest they bring a note from home if they have a medical issue, or they are not going during class. They are year 5 and the longest wait before an opportunity for the toilet is an hour and 45 mins. Surely they can hold it in for that long, As a previous poster said teachers have to.

iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 13:46:48


If they are on their period they can bring a note in, and I will let them go

T1mum3 Sun 21-May-17 13:55:19

As a young girl I would have found it humiliating to have to show a note to a teacher to say that I had my period. I don't think that's a very good idea.

Also UTIs and other issues can strike during the day.

I would just use discretion and like jam donut says, think about ways to engage the class so they have less desire to use this as an excuse to get out of lessons.

iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 14:03:11


The note will not have to be specific. Just a simple could you please excuse my son/daughter when they ask for the toilet please for example

Starlight2345 Sun 21-May-17 14:19:09

I think you need to use your common sense here. I have a DS in year 5 and I don't believe there are 3 that have started their yes you are walking a fine line there.

What I would do is remind the children to go at break , they clearly are out of the habbit of thinking about it. A year 5 doesn't need to go to the toilet the minute they ask. If follows normal pattern then teach then worksheet. Ask after I have done the teaching, ask in 10 minutes.

I think there is an element of common sense though .They do still look very uncomfortable when they really need the toilet.

Trifleorbust Sun 21-May-17 17:23:49

I think you should ask for medical evidence if you are going to ask for a note. A request to let them go will be made by every parent and if you have agreed they can go you will then have no discretion over it.

Starlight2345 Sun 21-May-17 18:11:26

Medical evidence??? Are you seriously going to ask for the parents to get a DR's letter.

If I said my Child has a UTI, I would expect to be believed.

Trifleorbust Sun 21-May-17 18:24:03


No, that would be daft. But if it was recurring and the child basically needed to use the toilet on demand over a period of time, I don't think it is unreasonable to bring in a doctor's letter or evidence of regular appointments.

Wonderpants Sun 21-May-17 18:32:13

I said that they could go, but would pay me back 2 minutes learning time at break.
They soon decided to only go if they had to.

irvineoneohone Sun 21-May-17 18:32:49

Or by this time of the year, I would expect the teacher to be able to determine who is genuine and who is taking chances to avoid work, imo.

And expect primary aged child who is in genuine need to go to the loo to hold an hour and 45 minutes is cruel.
Children have to wait because teachers have to wait is, a bit bonkers to me.

Trifleorbust Sun 21-May-17 18:50:06

And expect primary aged child who is in genuine need to go to the loo to hold an hour and 45 minutes is cruel.

I wouldn't expect that. I would expect them (by Y3/4) to be capable of managing their need to go to the toilet by going before school, at break and at lunch. It's what I had to do at that age.

catkind Sun 21-May-17 20:52:48

Haven't we had this out enough times yet? Trifle, supposing they have made a mistake and not gone at lunchtime. Do you then expect them to be more able to wait just because it was their misdemeanour or error that put them in the position? Or you think it's okay to make them suffer in that situation?

Asking for notes for periods is ridiculous, specially as a child is most likely to need to go urgently if their period's just coming on unexpectedly. Or an example I gave in a recent thread where I as a child was just starting a tummy bug but didn't know it until I actually got to the loo - good thing that teacher let me, it would have been awful.

iloveteaching Sun 21-May-17 20:53:56

Good point trifleorburst I will explain that only those with medical problems should bring a note or as like you every child will bring a note.

Starlight they will not have to hold on an hour and 45 minutes if they go at break and lunch.

Emphasise Sun 21-May-17 21:01:03

Isn't this the sort of thing the school should have a policy on, rather than individual teachers consulting MN? At my school a teacher facing such issues would discuss it over lunch in the staffroom - head insists encourages staff to eat there for this reason

Olivo Sun 21-May-17 21:26:20

DDs' school has a section on on the annual dats collection form asking 'does your choice led need to visit the toilet more often than usual?' ( or something to that effect. DD1 is in y6 and she does. I could not provide medical evidence, but the school are happy to accept my request. dD2 o nthe other hand, does not and we have written this.

I am a teacher myself, and think this is an easy way of getting around an embarrassing situation. In my school, students have a card if they have a medical condition or a weak bladder, but they rarely need to show it as we mostly know. Parents do not take the mick asking for these cards without reason.

Olivo Sun 21-May-17 21:27:06

Sorry, didn't know how to proof! That should read data and your child need....

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