Row over toilets at Calderdale school - parents say pupils forced to choose between queuing for loos or having their lunch

A Lightcliffe school has caused outrage and concern by locking its toilets during class time.

By sarah fitton
Monday, 11th April 2022, 2:00 pm

Angry parents have slammed Lightcliffe Academy's policy of only allowing pupils access to the toilets before and after school, and at lunch and break times.

The school says, like at many other secondary schools, students are encouraged to go to the toilet outside of lesson time to avoid disruption to lessons.

But parents claim the policy means there are lengthy queues at break times, and some children are being forced to choose between waiting to use the toilet and eating their lunch.

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Nicola Hanson with daughter Izzy Hanson outside Lightcliffe Academy.

A petition has been launched, urging the school to rethink the decision, and nearly 100 people have added their backing so far.

Nicola Hanson, who has two children at Lightcliffe Academy and started the petition, said: "I think it's wrong on so many levels. It's really awful."

She said students can be granted 'toilet passes' but these only allow them to use one disabled toilet in the school's reception, which becomes very busy.

"It's totally counterproductive, has a negative impact on healthy habits - including drinking lots of water which improves concentration - and increases UTIs and other bowel and bladder issues.

"It also means those who do genuinely need the loo take longer time away from their work as they have to ask permission and queue at the now very busy single disabled toilet.

"People may say that children should learn to wait but there are so many reasons why a child may need a disabled pass. Making them walk past locked toilets to access a disabled toilet and join a longer than necessary queue is my main point of complaint."

She added female students can not predict when they might need to use a toilet because of their menstrual cycles, and may be embarrassed about having to explain why they should be granted a toilet pass to a male teacher.

Joanne Harney, whose teenage daughter is at the school, said: "It's totally oppressive.

"They're almost having to decide between going to the loo and eating."

Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had always thought highly of the school but had been shocked by this policy.

"My daughter ends up going to the toilet before school at 7.30am and then doesn't go again until 3.45pm," she said.

"At lunchtime, she has to either queue for the toilet or go to get something to eat. She can't do both."

Head of School at Lightcliffe Academy Roz Wood-Ives said: "In common with many other secondary schools, our policy is that students are encouraged to go to the toilet outside of lesson time to avoid disruption to lessons, unless they need to for medical or health reasons, or it is an emergency.

"Students who need to use toilet facilities in an emergency have access to them in the main foyer during lesson times.

"Due to the positive relationships that exists between staff and students, staff use their discretion to ensure that those who genuinely need to access toilet facilities feel comfortable in seeking permission to do so.

"We have recently invested £10,000 in improving our toilet facilities, and have had positive feedback from students on these improvements.

"However, we are aware that some students and parents are unhappy with these arrangements, and are actively working with our parent and student councils around how we can address their concerns."