Plan International UK, a charity which promotes girls’ rights, has branded an incident which saw an 11-year-old girl denied access to school toilets while she was menstruating as “appalling”.
The girl, who was experiencing her first period, went home with bloody clothing after being refused permission to leave her lesson at Hastings Academy on Monday, September 17.
Her mum said the school told her the Year 7 pupil would need a ‘toilet pass’ to allow her out of lessons, but she could only obtain it with a doctor’s certificate – costing £15.
The story was picked up by the national media and even made headlines as far afield as New Zealand.
Now an international charity, which campaigns against schoolgirls being barred from toilets during their periods, has criticised Hastings Academy for its actions.
Sarah Carson, global campaigns manager at Plan International UK, said: “It’s appalling that a girl was forced to sit in blood-soaked clothes because her teacher wouldn’t let her go to the toilet during lesson time.
“As a girls’ rights charity we know that this is a common experience for many girls in the UK.
“A recent survey we did found that nearly a third (30 per cent) of girls had leaked in class because they weren’t allowed to go to the toilet during lesson time.
“The fear and anxiety over leaking in class has serious consequences, with 16 per cent of girls missing school because they were worried about having their period and not being allowed to go to the toilet during classes.
“With young people’s wellbeing, their education and their success at school at stake, we believe things have to change.”
Last week the University of Brighton Academies Trust, which runs Hastings Academy, apologised to the girl’s family and said it was reviewing its toilet pass system.
The trust also runs Dudley Infant Academy and The Baird Primary Academy in Hastings, as well as Churchwood Primary Academy, Hollington Primary Academy, Robsack Wood Primary Academy, Silverdale Primary Academy, The St Leonards Academy and West St Leonards Primary Academy, all in St Leonards.
In West Sussex, the trust runs Pound Hill Infant Academy and Demond Anderson Primary Academy in Crawley; Blackthorns Community Primary Academy, Lindfield Primary Academy and The Burgess Hill Academy in Mid Sussex; and Holmbush Primary Academy in Shoreham.
Find out more about Plan International UK’s ‘Locked out’ campaign
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Prince Harry and Meghan – visted East and West Sussex on Wednesday; two extra floors are being added to a parade of shops in Eastbourne; and Proposals for Sussex’s first IKEA and 600 homes at New Monks Farm in Lancing have been approved.