Parents express anger after Stoke school installs locked barriers outside toilets

Parents say the barriers at Discovery Academy in Stoke are "humiliating" and they will be staging a protest on Monday (13 February). Credit: BPM

Dozens of children have 'walked out' of school in Stoke-on-Trent - in protest at the installation of locked metal barriers outside toilet entrances.

The barriers - which are apparently locked during lessons - have appeared at The Discovery Academy, in Bentilee, this week.

The gates are then said to be unlocked at break and lunch times. Now angry parents are planning to stage a protest outside the school on Monday morning.

One mum says she saw more than 70 pupils leave the school on Thursday. They included her son after she pulled him out of lessons.

A photo taken by a student of the locked barriers that now appear outside toilets at the school Credit: BPM

The 30-year-old said: "I was flicking through Snapchat when I saw one of the gates. I asked my son, ‘Are there gates on the toilets?' He said ‘yes’. I phoned the office and asked them about it. I said ‘send my son home now'.

"They asked me why and I told them ‘because I said so, that’s why'. My son asked to go to the toilet and he was told 'no'. He wasn't allowed and he has a medical pass.

They continued saying the parents are "taking a stand" against the school, "I just hope that they see things from our point of view and cut the ridiculous rules. The kids are going to rebel even more, the behaviour is going to be worse. If you teach children respect then they give you respect back. Treating them like animals is going to make them bad.”

Parents believe that the barriers have been installed after recent vandalism and concerns that children are going on their phones in the toilets during lessons.

But there are also concerns that the move is 'humiliating' for girls. Medical passes are said to be available for pupils to use the toilet at any time.Another mum said: “Girls of a certain age need to use the toilet - sometimes at short notice. It’s hard enough being a girl at that age never mind bleeding through in front of your whole class. I’m not having my daughter humiliated.

“With periods young girls don’t know when they are coming. You try to prepare as much as possible but there are still incidents. You can’t prepare for an upset stomach, I think it’s disgusting.”

Alpha Academies Trust (AAT) runs The Discovery Academy. It has not commented on when the barriers are opened and locked and who qualifies for a medical pass.

An AAT spokesperson said: "At AAT we have high expectations of learning and clear processes in place to support. We have high standards of uniform ready for the world ahead and have processes in place for those who truant.

"We encourage students to go to the toilet at regular set times during the day and support those with medical needs by accessing toilets at any time. Parental engagement is extremely important to us and we value opportunities to listen to concerns and explain the reasons for our decisions."