School Children Across England Protest Over Toilet and Uniform Rules

School Children Across England Protest Over Toilet and Uniform Rules
Toilets in a file photo. (ChiccoDodiFC/Alamy/PA Media)
Lily Zhou

Around ten schools across England saw protests on Thursday and Friday over rules on toilet breaks and uniforms.

A number of schools have been locking most of their toilets during lesson times. Parents from one school said children who suffer from bowel issues would have to pay for a doctor's note to be allowed visits during class, while girls from another school are said to have to get a red card to go to the toilet during their periods.

Pupils at two other schools protested over skirt rules. One of the schools requires girls to wear knee-length skirts, the other is banning skirts altogether from September.

During the protests, understood to be organised on TikTok, tables were said to have been flipped in one of the schools in Cornwall, while police were reportedly called to three schools.

West Yorkshire

Pupils of the Farnley Academy in Leeds stood outside the school on Friday morning to protest the secondary school's new toilet rule.
According to LeedsLive, the school, which is part of the GORSE Academies Trust, had been locking all but one set of toilets during classes in order to tackle truancy.

The report said students have to get written permission from teachers to go to the toilet, and a staff member guarding the toilets then has to check the notes and stay close to the door after the students go in.

A parent wrote on the Facebook Page "The Farnley Academy Friends" on Thursday that doors were put on the entrances to all the toilets, which were "locked between lessons," leading to queues.

"So if [your] child needs to go they can’t until break or lunch when they have to join a queue and hope they get in before they’re locked again!" she wrote, calling the situation "madness."
One parent wrote that she was told her son who suffers from constipation has to get a doctor's note, which costs £30, every year in order to get a toilet pass, while another parent whose son has inflammatory bowel disease said she was told the same.

A spokesperson for the GORSE Trust said the toilets are locked to keep students safe.

"To keep all students safe during times when members of staff are not on duty, we have asked students to only use the centrally located toilets during lesson time," the statement said.

The spokesperson said these centrally located toilets are open at all times, and students are able to use all of the toilets during break and lunch.

"We actively encourage all students to ensure that they go to the toilet before school, at break and at lunch, to avoid needing to go during lesson time. However, the option to use the toilets during lesson time remains available to students where it is needed," the statement said, adding that the trust is "investing a further £100,000 to fully refurbish some of the toilets within the school in the coming months.”

Some parents said on Facebook after the protests that their children were suspended.


“Hundreds of students” demonstrated at Penrice Academy in St Austell, Cornwall, on Friday over similar rules.

New rules took effect on Friday that banned pupils from going to the toilet during lessons. It's also said to include a “red card scheme” in which female students need a special card to go to the toilet during class when on their periods.

A student who witnessed the demonstration said the rule meant students "can only really go twice in a day," but he thought the rule made sense as it may have to do with the fact that toilets had been getting vandalised.

The teenage boy told the PA news agency he was not involved in the protest, which "was originally meant to be a peaceful protest" but "escalated relatively fast."

“People started like flipping tables and climbing fences,” he said, adding that “something like” a bin was thrown through a window during the violence.

The teenager estimated around 300 students took part, adding that “quite a number of them” were suspended immediately and sent home.

He said he heard about one injury in which a student fell off a fence while trying to climb it.

The boy's father told PA the school had consulted with parents about the new rules, and confirmed there has been “a lot of abuse of toilets” by students while they have been out of lessons.

Penrice Academy sent an email to parents on Friday afternoon explaining that some students had protested “due to a social media post yesterday evening.”

The school told parents and carers: “Our students have the right to express their opinions in a calm and safe manner, however a small number of students’ behaviour was unacceptable.

“A number of parents have already been contacted to collect their children.

“For the majority of our students, lessons and lunch time will continue as normal. If you have not been contacted, there is no need to collect your child.

“We hope to engage with them to find a solution that works for everyone as soon as possible. The safety and wellbeing of our students is always our priority.”

North Yorkshire

Police were called to Richmond School in North Yorkshire on Friday morning after more than a dozen students protested against the toilet ban during lesson time.

Unconfirmed reports claimed a tree was set on fire, a teacher was pushed, and a window was smashed, but North Yorkshire Police said in a statement that "no criminal activity had taken place and the matter has been left with the school to deal with."

In a statement to Richmondshire Today, Jenna Potter, headteacher at the College, said a small group of students attended the protest.

"Richmond School and Sixth Form College is proud of promoting the highest standards of behaviour and this unacceptable approach is extremely disappointing," Potter said.

“The overwhelming majority of students were equally shocked at the behaviour of a small minority. Students have already been consulted and will continue to contribute to a solution.”


According to LincolnshireLive, a parent said students at Haven High Academy protested on the school field on Thursday after the school had "corridors and toilet blocks ... locked during school time," with students having to get permission to go to the toilet.

In a letter sent to parents, headteacher Stuart Rees blamed a TikTok trend for the protests in a number of schools.

"As you may be aware, a small group of students decided to imitate a trend relating to school protests that has been trending on Tik Tok within school today," the letter reads.

"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."

Rees said the academy values student voices, but it's "vital that students air any concerns in the right way."

"Such behaviour is unacceptable and cannot happen again. We are already aware that certain students have put out messages on social media to try and cause further disruption within school so we are asking for the support of all parents/carers to support us and ensure that all our students can learn without disruption," Rees said.

"As such, any student who enters the academy and does not attend lessons immediately or refuses to comply with reasonable requests from staff, will have their parent/carer called immediately and will be issued with an appropriate sanction."

South Yorkshire

Students at the Outwood Academy Danum in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, also joined the TikTok trend and staged a protest over toilets being shuttered on Monday, but the school said those toilets were closed for cleaning and repair purposes.
In a statement to Doncaster Free Press, school principal Amanda Crane confirmed that some toilets were closed earlier during the week "for a short duration in order to carry out repairs and to deep clean the facilities following some pupil misuse."

"Whilst this closure was in place, another set of toilets were opened up elsewhere in the academy to ensure a sufficient number of toilets were available for student use," Crane said.

"Unfortunately, situations like this do occur, however, we will always make sure students have clean, safe, and appropriate facilities and put their health and wellbeing at the forefront of every decision we make."

According to the Doncaster Free Press, police were called to Campsmount Academy, another school in Doncaster, after dozens of students staged a lunchtime protest over school rules.

South Essex

Pupils at Bromfords School and Castle View School in South Essex were also reported to have joined the trend on Friday.
According to the Canvey Echo, a Bromfords School parent, who went to get their daughter out of the school, said they "witnessed first-hand" chaotic scenes where "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 parent whose daughters go to the Castle View School told The Times of London that both girls had been denied use of the toilet—one was on her period and the younger one has a condition that affects her bowels.

Headteacher Steve Durkin told the publication that pupils are able to access all toilets "before school, break times, and after school."

"If a pupil requires access to the toilet during lesson time, they request a pass from their teacher and are allowed access," he said.


The toilet-ban protests come after students at Rainford High School in St Helens, Merseyside, demonstrated on Thursday over the school's rule that requires skirts to be knee-length.
According to comments on a petition on, girls were "treated almost as animal[s] being almost headed into a penned in section in the auditorium to be inspected," sometimes by male staff.

Lexi Pennington, who started the petition, said she understood "some skirts are too short and incredibly revealing," but the school's way of handling the issue is punishing girls who didn't roll up their skirts.

Pennington criticised the rule that forces parents to buy new skirts during a cost of living crisis or risk their children being suspended, while teachers were seen walking around with "skirts not following these same rules."

One parent who signed the petition said his daughter was "mortified" after having her skirt length inspected by male teachers in front of male pupils. Another parent said she signed the petition because her slim daughter was threatened with suspension as the longest skirt that would fit her waist was "barely above the knee."

The Liverpool Echo reported that a video shared on TikTok shows male pupils at the school wearing skirts over their trousers in support of the girls during the protest.

School principal Ian Young said the school took action over uniform enforcement after almost half of the students refused to comply with the rules.

"As a school we have been concerned about the failure of a significant number of students to wear the skirt to the standards and expectations laid down in the uniform policy," Young said, adding that the school had reached a compromise agreement with student leadership teams that was implemented between November and February half term, but the compromise "as also ignored by a significant minority of students."

"Rainford High has a clear uniform policy that despite having tried to work with our student community to adjust and compromise throughout this academic year, has unfortunately seen a refusal to comply by approximately 45 percent of the students," Young said.

"We have taken firm action to politely challenge our students around how they wear uniform. The issue of required skirt length as a school rule has been within the school policy for a number of years and all parents and students are directed to this upon joining our community."


The Warriner School in Banbury, Oxfordshire, was forced to close on Friday following police advice after students protested over the secondary school's ban of skirts from September.
Videos posted on social media show hundreds of students gathered at the school on Friday morning, after the school wrote to parents on Thursday informing them of the school's new uniform policy that includes a ban on skirts.
According to the BBC, the letter from assistant headteacher Lotty Keys said the school decided to mandate a "gender-neutral uniform" to "further support and empower our students with our values of equality and respect."

Keys also said the decision was made because the length of "a lot of" female students' skirts was not appropriate.

"Students who roll skirts to an inappropriate length are sending out the wrong social message in their choice of style—they seem to feel they need to conform to a certain image, in order to fit in with friendship groups," the letter reads.

"We feel this has no place in an educational setting and for this reason we are introducing trousers for all students."

Executive headteacher Annabel Kay apologised after the protest saying in a statement that the school had "underestimated the strength of feeling on this issue" and had not "properly engaged or consulted with all parents and students."

PA Media contributed to this report.
Related Topics