Cornwall secondary school under fire over toilet rules and red period pass cards
A secondary school in Cornwall has come under fire over its toilet rules.
Penrice Academy in St Austell announced changes to pupils' use of toilet facilities during class time, which includes students only going to the bathroom outside of lesson time and girls requesting red card passes when they are on their period.
The school said it was important to minimise disruption during classes but parents have branded the new rules as 'controlling and archaic'.
Some took to Facebook to express their outrage.
Kim Bailey wrote: "Any human, child or adult should be allowed to use the toilets at any time. They are hardly going to 'please Sir I have a touch of diarrhoea'. Or 'please may I use the loo my periods have started'."
Another parent said: "If schools are all about care and nurturing children, some of these controlling and archaic rules need rethinking.
"Children and young adults have a desperate need to be embarrassed. Penrice academy and all the other schools need to rethink what's best for the child."
One mother added: "They should know by now that these rules are singling students out and will not be approved of by anyone. Red passes are a ridiculous idea. This is a complete invasion of young girls' privacy."
Lisa Flowers agreed, adding: "Let's give them a red card the same colour as blood and single out the girls on their periods which is a natural cycle of life. That shouldn't be ruled by anyone but the individual at any age."
Another concerned parent added: "The issuing of a red card is neither sensible or a reasonable response. It clearly singles out these young people. Who already have many pressures this is an invasion of their privacy. It is likely to and will cause embarrassment.
"It may lead to these young people being teased or worse. Quite clearly the general consensus is that this practice needs to stop and must stop."
However, the school has defended its policy insisting it will never prevent pupils from going to the toilet if they really are in need.
Lucy Gambier, the headteacher of Penrice Academy, defended the policy saying: "Penrice students are welcome to use the toilet facilities at the start of the day, in between lessons, at breaktimes, lunchtimes, and at the end of the day.
"This equates to 6 opportunities throughout the day, spaced no more than 75 minutes apart at any one time. This policy is in place to maximise learning time and minimise disruption to teaching.
"There are, of course, exceptions such as medical conditions and unexpected arrival of periods; toilet passes can be obtained by students who require flexibility or peace of mind."
The school said 'red card period passes' can be requested ahead of time for pupils to keep in their bags and use when required.
James Hammersley, the Assistant Headteacher, added: "We understand that girls cannot always plan for the arrival of their periods which may take place during lessons.
"With this in mind, girls can request red period pass cards via their tutors which they can keep in their bags to use when required.
"This system has always proven successful, and many Penrice girls already know of and make use of the cards. Crucially, this system operates on trust, and is monitored to ensure that the cards are used appropriately."