Parents and pupils have branded a secondary school’s decision to introduce unisex toilets with surveillance cameras inside as ‘outrageous’.
They have complained that children of all ages and genders are having to use the same toilets.
In addition, security cameras have been placed outside the cubicles in the ‘communal areas’ of the toilets. Pupils claim the cameras face the cubicle doors.
Buckler’s Mead Academy in Yeovil, Somerset, where unisex toilets have been installed with cameras
Parents whose children attend Buckler’s Mead Academy in Yeovil, Somerset, say the move is ‘a breach of privacy’.
But staff at the school, rated good by Ofsted and attended by children aged 11 to 16, said the cameras were necessary because of vandalism.
One father said four students have already been excluded for damaging the cameras.
‘Four pupils including my son have been excluded,’ said the man, who did not want to be named. ‘The school believes they broke the cameras.
‘We have been told the cameras have been put into the toilets for safety reasons because there have been fights and graffiti in the toilets. I don’t care what has happened, there should not be cameras in the toilet area.’
A woman whose daughter attends the school said the situation was ‘wrong on so many levels’. She added: ‘I’m absolutely disgusted that CCTV has been put in the toilets. This is a breach of privacy.’
The school is not only facing backlash for its decision to install unisex bathrooms, but also for the cameras within them
A former pupil said: ‘It’s outrageous that students don’t get a tiny bit of privacy. A student should be able to answer the call of nature without feeling like he or she is being watched.’
Another parent, who did not wish to be identified told the local news website Somerset Live that children were ‘mad and upset’ at the situation. ‘The girls are worried about their safety and privacy,’ she said.
Pupils have voiced their discontent on social media. One claimed he had been excluded from classes as a result of his posts on Facebook.
The academy defended the unisex toilets, claiming the same style is now used by many schools. A spokesman denied a child had been suspended for social media posts, but refused to comment on whether or not the exclusion related to the camera or toilet cubicles.
He added: ‘There has been some social media discussion suggesting we have CCTV which films inside the toilet cubicles. This is not the case – there are cameras in the communal places outside the cubicles in some areas of the academy.
‘This is due to the fact these areas have been used inappropriately by some students in the past. The damage they have caused is unacceptable.
‘These [single-use toilet cubicles] provide maximum privacy for students. They have full-length doors and sides. Most cubicles also have their own private wash-hand basin.’