Parents are furious after a primary school in Melbourne's south-west punished their pupils for taking toilet trips during class time.
Bellbridge Primary School came under fire for ‘fining’ students and forcing them to stay late during their breaks if they used the bathroom outside the designated lunchtime or recess periods.
The ‘fines’ were paid from play currency through the Hoppers Crossing school’s ‘earn and learn’ program, which was designed to teach the value of working and earning money.
Mother-of-two Elisa Walker told NewsCorp that penalising children for using the toilet during class time was 'ridiculous', and holding their bladders for too long has caused accidents.
“It’s their basic needs. They get fined, they lose their money, which they save for special things,” she said.
“Some of them have been known to wet themselves.”
Danielle Henderson was upset her 11-year-old daughter Lauren was fined $50 of her ‘earn and learn’ money for taking too many toilet breaks.
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Ms Henderson said: “There will always be kids who use the toilet as an excuse to get out of work, but they’re the kids who should be targets, not the whole class.”
Students also had to write up the times they went to the toilet on a whiteboard, along with how long they took, for the whole class to see.
Principal Debbie Clancy said she put a stop to the penalties following a complaint from a parent.
“Of course, our students are free to go to the toilet whenever they need – and we would never stop a child from going to the toilet during class time, or penalise them for doing so,” she said.
“A small number of classes have deducted points earned in the ‘earn and learn’ system as a way to discourage children from using the toilet during class time.”
A spokesman from the Department of Education and Training said students must always be allowed to use the toilet when needed.
The department will work with Bellbridge PS on positive techniques to encourage children to use toilets during their breaks where possible, he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews criticised the toilet scheme, saying he wanted school to be a "happy time" for children.
"Schools should be a place where kids get to enjoy the wonderment of learning and reach their full potential," he told reporters.
News break – March 3