Teachers are telling children they’re not allowed to go to the toilet in a bid to crackdown on vaping, parents are claiming at a Broadland school.

Aylsham High School has become embroiled in a bizarre row over toilets and vaping – with parents claiming their children are being told they can’t use the loo without a pass issued by the school.

It is part of the school's campaign to stop children from vaping in the toilets, where ‘vape sensors’ have been installed and metal detectors have been employed.

Parents say pupils have been told they can only use the toilet at break and lunchtime - and not during lessons.

They’ve even said there have been incidents of children wetting themselves in classrooms after teachers told them they couldn’t leave.

However, headteacher Duncan Spalding says although children are encouraged to go during their breaks to avoid disrupting lessons, they are always allowed to use the facilities.

North Norfolk News: Aylsham High SchoolAylsham High School (Image: Antony Kelly)

But parents disagree, with many raising concerns about their teenage daughters, who face anxiety at school every day because of the risk of embarrassment.

Their children are reluctant to get toilet passes from the school through fear of being picked on and bullied.

One parent said: “My son asked the teacher permission to go to the toilet but the teacher said out loud, ‘you need a pass if you want to go to the toilet in lesson time’.

“He now has the pass, but he’s embarrassed to use it.”

Other parents said the school is "taking away a basic human right", and voiced that some children suffer from health conditions which mean they need to go more often. 

The clamp down on vaping is happening at schools across the region. 

Aylsham High School has said it is using metal detectors to search children for vapes in its bid to end vaping on the school grounds.

North Norfolk News: Examples of the vapes children are using in schoolsExamples of the vapes children are using in schools (Image: Newsquest)

READ MORE: Parents put the boot in! Row over banned shoes

What the school says

Duncan Spalding, Aylsham High School's headteacher, said: "The statement that we don’t allow children to use the toilet during lesson time is not true.

"Children are allowed to go to the toilet during lesson times and the toilets are open for students all day. The only time a toilet is locked is if it needs cleaning or if repairs are needed.

"We do encourage children to use the toilets before school, at break time and at lunchtime to avoid disruptions to lessons where possible. This is completely in line with what secondary schools do locally and nationally."

North Norfolk News: Aylsham High School headteacher Duncan SpaldingAylsham High School headteacher Duncan Spalding (Image: Supplied)

Toilet passes and female students

Mr Spalding said: "Any use of medical cards is to support those who need to use the toilet urgently so as to avoid accidents and mishaps as we know how horrible it can be for a young person.

"We also remind staff regularly of the need to be particularly sensitive to the needs of female students asking to use the toilet."

READ MORE: Norfolk MP calls for true figure 'stolen' by Post Office in scandal to be revealed

Vape sensors and metal detectors

"Unfortunately vaping is a real problem for all schools nationally at the moment," Mr Spalding said.

"Regrettably a minority of our students vape in the toilets. I know lots of other secondary colleagues are dealing with the same issue.

"We, like other schools, have installed vape sensors in the toilets to try and reduce instances of vaping and ensure that the toilets are used properly by all students.

"Metal detector wands have been used because regrettably students hide vapes about their person. With their agreement the students scan themselves for hidden items.

"All searches are conducted in accordance with the latest government guidance which informs our school policies."

North Norfolk News:

Government intervention needed

"It would be really helpful if the government would legislate more strongly to prevent vapes getting into the hands of children and also had stronger penalties for retailers who sell vapes to children without asking for ID.

"The targeting of vape sales at children is something that needs dealing with the very highest level.

"We always prioritise the safety and well-being of all students."