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Herts and Essex High School’s decision to remove toilet doors slammed



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Herts and Essex High School has defended its decision to remove external toilet doors.

The measure at the Warwick Road secondary – which has girls only in Years 7 to 11 and a mixed sixth form – prompted protests from pupils and their parents.

One Year 9 girl told the Indie: “I think my whole student body would agree that this is not acceptable. I feel it’s an invasion of privacy.”

A girls' toilet with its external door removed. The staff toilet next door is also a staff changing room, hence the lock on the door and blacked-out window. All staff toilets have their doors wedged open or, where this is not possible, the door has also been removed
A girls' toilet with its external door removed. The staff toilet next door is also a staff changing room, hence the lock on the door and blacked-out window. All staff toilets have their doors wedged open or, where this is not possible, the door has also been removed

While the cubicle doors remain in place, the external toilet doors separating them from corridors have been taken off their hinges.

The student said: “Male staff and male sixth-formers being able to simply walk by and stare into the female space? It’s not fair, it’s embarrassing. I feel uncomfortable in the only place to have privacy in my own learning place.”

The youngster also feared that CCTV was being used to monitor sink areas and was sceptical that removing the doors was a proportionate measure to combat coronavirus.

Herts and Essex High School logo and values (53218018)
Herts and Essex High School logo and values (53218018)

She said: “Toilets have windows and teachers will normally only let one student per class go to the bathroom at once so crowding in these rooms doesn’t seem to be an issue for me.”

There was also speculation that removal of the doors was part of a time and motion study designed to see if more toilets could be made available for male staff and students and to prevent rule-breaking such as vaping.

Some parents were especially concerned that the toilet changes followed a student survey for even the youngest pupils which included questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.

A spokeswoman for the school said the measures would be reviewed: “Toilet blocks needed to be open because of Covid and door wedges simply weren’t doing the job.

"The blocks’ doors have been removed temporarily which means that our toilet blocks are now similar to those in newly-built schools. Although a good precautionary Covid action in the first instance, there may be other positive or negative side-effects, which we are interested to understand.”

She stressed: “We don’t make students feel uncomfortable in toilets or anywhere else. Nor do we ask questions which might upset them in any way.

"With regards to CCTV, although we do have cameras in the school, as is the norm these days, none of them compromise student privacy. We take our student safety very seriously indeed.”



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