School denies children being made to fill in ‘toilet form’

Date published: 24 May 2019

A local primary school has denied pupils are made to fill in forms if they want to visit the toilet.

Rachael Bentham, headteacher at Norden Community Primary School, has written to parents to rebut claims the policy is being imposed in her classrooms.

It comes after dozens of parents raised concerns over what they describe as a raft of ‘alarming’ new policies introduced by Mrs Bentham since she became head.

In a letter to the school’s chair of governors, Sue Moore-Holmes, they described the alleged rule as a ‘draconian measure’.

They added: “Why would you wish to stigmatise children with having to fill in a reflection sheet about a bodily function which, at primary school, some children are only just learning to control?”

In a letter sent to parents this week, Mrs Bentham said school policies were being misrepresented.

Telling parents their concerns were a ‘high priority’, she added: “I want to make clear that there is no policy on ‘reflection sheets’ for pupils going to the toilet, nor is this a policy that we are looking at implementing.

“As I have advised previously, I can and will meet with parents on an individual basis to discuss and attempt to address any concerns being raised.”

Families also complained about a number of other issues not addressed in Mrs Bentham’s letter.

These include the reported introduction of ‘fantastic walking’, which involves children walking around the school in a ‘calm and purposeful manner’ with their hands behind their backs. Parents say the practice is dangerous and ‘belongs in Victorian times, a military academy, or even a cult’.

Other concerns included the school’s handling of the ‘MoMo’ internet hoax and reportedly using sugary foods to reward good behaviour.

However, parents were staggered when the response from Ms Moore Holmes said the allegations in the letter ‘could potentially lead to further actions being taken against individual parents/carers’.

They have now escalated the matter to education officials at Rochdale council.

In a letter to the authority, they describe the warning of possible repercussions as ‘worrying’, adding: “Even more concerning that not once in the letter from Sue Moore-Holmes is there an attempt to address the concerns over the immediate safety of our children or the conduct of the headteacher.”

Norden Community Primary School has declined to comment, but a council spokesman said: “Contrary to recent reports, there is no policy in place at Norden Primary for children to fill in a form if they want to use the toilet.

“We are aware of the concerns of a small number of parents and are working to ensure that these are raised in the appropriate way so that they can be addressed.

“During recent visits to the school, council staff saw pupils being educated in a safe and purposeful environment.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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