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‘Military’ academy defends asking pupils for GP notes for toilet breaks during lessons

The headteacher of Bulwell Academy – described as an ‘army camp’ by a frustrated parent – has defended a policy asking pupils for a doctor’s note so they can go to the toilet during lesson time.

Parent Christine Rae told Nottinghamshire Live last week how she’d had to pay £30 for a letter from her doctor so her daughter can have a pass to go to the loo in lesson time when on her period.

Miss Rae described the school as an “army camp”.

Another parent, whose daughter was given a dispensation pass on the back of a doctor’s letter, said: “It’s like a military academy.”

However, Bulwell Academy’s Principal has now defended the policy, saying student academy outcomes had improved with the focus on classrooms as places of teaching and learning.

He also said the school was aware of doctors charging £30 for a medical exemption letter and that the academy has contacted the GP in question to challenge the charge.

Principal Brad Nash said: “A new behaviour strategy, aiming for 100 percent disruption-free lessons, was introduced to the Bulwell Academy in January 2021 and has been communicated regularly to students and carers.

“As a result, our classrooms have become focused places of teaching and learning with much-improved student academic outcomes.

“Students report feeling safer and more confident both in and between lessons.

“We encourage students to visit the toilet during breaks and lunch and understand that some will need to be excused during lessons.

“For this reason the new behaviour strategy introduced a fair, consistent and equitable approach requiring medical exemption letters to support those who need it.

“We are aware of GPs charging £30 for a medical exemption letter. It very uncommon for GPs to levy this charge.

“The parent concerned is aware that the Academy has contacted the GP to challenge the charge.

“We await a response and will ensure that, if the GP refuses to rescind their charge, we will reimburse the money.”