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Police called to school as pupils ‘riot’ during toilet rule change protest

Police called in to disrupt riots over toilet use

William Mata
Friday 24 February 2023 14:31 GMT
Pupils stage protest at Cornish school over change to toilet rules

Students at schools across England rallied against strict new rules that stopped them from using the toilet during lesson time on Friday.

Secondaries in Cornwall, Essex, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire were all reported to have seen angry pupils rioting against measures by shaking fences, flipping desks, kicking doors, or standing on playing fields - refusing to go into class.

In at least one case in Richmond in North Yorkshire, the police were called in, although it is understood that no criminal action has been taken by any force.

Schools have gone as far as putting locked gates in front of toilets during class although it is not clear why the action was undertaken simultaneously at apparently unconnected secondaries.

The uprising was instead sparked by sentiment growing on social media with Facebook being used to orchestrate action at Penrice Academy in St Austell, Cornwall.

A witness told Cornwall Live: “Just to let you know that my daughter has just called me to say the protest has got out of hand and students are flipping tables.”

Students also used video sharing platform TikTok to spread feeling and plan action - with the idea of taking a stand spreading from school to school.

The headteacher of Haven High Academy in Boston, Lincolnshire, wrote to parents: "As you may be aware, a small group of students decided to imitate a trend relating to school protests that has been trending on TikTok within school today.

“Such school protests have happened in numerous schools throughout the country and unfortunately a number of students decided to engage in a protest relating to certain school rules.”

Students in Cornwall took action on Friday which saw tables flipped in classrooms (Cornwall Live)

An Essex headteacher explained that pupils “are able to access all toilets before school, break times, and after school,” and that “if a pupil requires access to the toilet during lesson time, they request a pass from their teacher.”

But students spoke up about the policy being an infringement of “human rights” and parents were supportive of their stand.

Richmond School in North Yorkshire was reportedly been locked down with some students letting off fire extinguishers and kicking down doors. Local reports said a tree was set on fire, that teachers were pushed over and windows were smashed.

North Yorkshire Police said: “Police were contacted at 9.40am to reports of criminal damage taking place at Richmond School.

Protests followed the implementation of new school rules that pupils can only go to the toilets during break times (ChiccoDodiFC/Alamy/PA)

“Local neighbourhood officers who were in the area attended, along with local police community support officers to provide reassurance.

“They established no criminal activity had taken place and the matter has been left with the school to deal with.”

The Farnley Academy in Leeds has seen students standing outside classrooms and refusing to go in while riots also reached Essex with Bromfords School in Wickford and Castle View School on Canvey involved.

“Students were setting off fire alarms and running amok at the school in protest of locked toilets, lack of school lunches and staffing issues,” a Bromfords parent told the Canvey Echo.

She added: “I have just physically attended the school to get my daughter out of there as it’s kicking off.

Entry to toilets is strictly controlled (SWNS)

“I have just witnessed first-hand, the school is chaos!”

In Oxfordshire town Banbury, The Warriner School, a co-ed secondary with 1,500 pupils aged 11 to 18, has been forced to close after angry protests from parents and a mutiny by students over a ban on girls wearing skirts and a 'gender neutral' PE kit led to police being called.

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