Shenfield High School students share protests on TikTok
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TitTok-organised protests are plunging schools across the country into chaos as pupils take on their teachers over what they have labelled “prison rules”. Schools in Yorkshire, Cornwall and Lincolnshire have all seen mass walkouts by students protesting over changes to the rules on uniforms and toilets.
While the specific grievances vary between schools, a consistent theme is that students are protesting increasingly strict rules around when they can go to the toilet.
Both students and parents have branded the regulations as “prison rules.” Videos posted online show books all over the floor, tables overturned, and groups of students chanting. They have been labelled “TikTok protests”, as many of them are organised on the popular social media site, along with Snapchat.
A school in Cornwall saw students flipping tables over being told students could only go to the bathroom outside of class, and that girls on their period would need to request a “red card”.
According to parent of a pupil at Haven High in Lincolnshire, which also saw protests last week, unrest at that school also came after children were told they could not use the toilet during lessons.
They said: “For some strange reason the headteacher seems to be throwing prison rules into the school where corridors and toilet blocks are locked during school time. If they need the toilet or anything they have to go through this teacher and that teacher, it’s just like a prison in there.
“They can’t wear any sort of jewellery and no make-up. If mobile phones are switched on then they get confiscated until after school. All the students protested and went onto the school field. Some teachers were trying to get them back in but they were saying ‘no’.”
Another issue is the introduction of unisex toilets, which has sparked a protest in Weston Secondary School in Southampton.
Pupils chanted “toilet rights” after female students were left uncomfortable at the prospect of sharing a toilet with boys.
While the children say they reported worries about the same-sex toilets at the academy school after their introduction in September, they now claim to have been ignored by staff.
One pupil, Cloe, 14, told the Mail Online: “We don’t think it’s fair, girls in our school are not comfortable. People think it’s funny to unlock the doors while you’re in there. We’re trying to tell the teachers that it’s just not fair. We’ve tried to talk to them before we did a protest but they’re just ignoring it.’
Another 14-year-old added: “We have gone to the headteacher about it before and they just tell you what you want to hear and don’t do anything about it.”
Meanwhile, one female pupil said “girl emergencies” mean they should be allowed to use the toilet without having to wait “up to two hours” for a break or lunchtime.
She added: “You’re also not allowed to leave lessons to go to the toilet which isn’t fair on girls who are menstruating. If you have a girl emergency you should be allowed to go to the toilet when you need to.”
A school in Blackpool has denied claims of a “mass rebellion”, after a group of pupils defied rules.
Headteacher of Blackpool’s Unity Academy said the uprisings were part of a social media trend, Stephen Cooke, said the trend of mass disobedience started last week and has built momentum over the weekend.
He added: “Student voice is important to the academy and in order to ensure all students had an opportunity to share concerns, form time was extended this morning by ten minutes in order to offer the opportunity for students to share these concerns, which colleagues committed to responding to later on this week.
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“Despite providing opportunities for this morning, a very small number of the school population (less than 5 percent) chose to take part in a protest by not going to class after the lunch break. The number of students reduced quickly and they were supervised by staff at all times. The ‘protest’ lasted for around 15 minutes before being brought to a calm conclusion by staff.”
At Shenfield High School in Essex, footage showed students trampling books and overturning chairs in school hallways – although it remains unclear what exactly the students were protesting in this case.
And last week riot police were called into Richmond School in North Yorkshire after students started letting off fire extinguishers and kicking down doors.
The Department of Education has even weighed in, releasing a statement on the protests which said they were “concerned.”
Its spokesman said: “We are concerned at the reports of disruption and will be in touch with all schools and local authorities to ensure they are supported at this time. We will always back headteachers to take the action required to maintain calm and supportive classroom environments as they are best placed to work with their teachers, parents, pupils and local communities when developing and implementing policies.”
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