PARENTS have slammed a school’s decision to block access to its toilets with the installation of shutters over the summer holidays.

Pupils returned to Harwich and Dovercourt High School after the summer break to learn shutters had been installed at the entrances to all but one set of toilets in the school, in Hall Lane, Dovercourt.

The shutters remain closed throughout the day except at break times, and teachers are allowed to use their discretion to allow pupils to use the remaining open toilets during lessons.

One frustrated parent dubbed the “archaic” move as a “lazy effort to safeguard children”.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: School - Harwich and Dovercourt High School, in Hall Lane, DovercourtSchool - Harwich and Dovercourt High School, in Hall Lane, Dovercourt (Image: Gooderham PR)

They said: “The one set of toilets are at the bottom end of the school. Children with bowel or bladder issues, or ones too shy to ask, are going to have issues.

“If the school thinks that’s the right way to treat children then they really need to think again.”

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Concerns have also been raised by the presence of CCTV cameras in bathrooms.

A parent with two children at the school felt it is an “invasion of privacy”, despite the cameras not covering any of the toilet cubicles.

What does the school say?

Headteacher Kate Finch confirmed teachers do allow pupils to go to the toilet during lessons and said the investment in shutters is for the safety of the school’s pupils and follows similar installations by other schools.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Response - Harwich and Dovercourt High School headteacher Kate FinchResponse - Harwich and Dovercourt High School headteacher Kate Finch (Image: Gooderham PR)

She said: “We are very proud to be a school that listens to our students and they told us that the toilets was an area where they can sometimes feel anxious, especially during lesson times when they are unmonitored.

“We didn’t want to stop our students using the toilets during lesson time, though we do encourage them not to lose out on learning time.”

Mrs Finch said the feedback from students has been positive following the start of the new school year.

“We would always ask any student, parent or carer to contact us directly if they would like to discuss any aspect of school life,” she added.

Schoolchildren across the country staged protests last year over concerns regarding access to toilets during the school day.