Toilet break exam rules 'degrading'
A college has banned teenage students from taking unaccompanied toilet breaks during exams as part of a clampdown on would-be cheats.
Solihull Sixth Form College is introducing the security measure - which also requires students to leave cubicle doors open - to prevent the use of mobile phones during AS-level tests.
Set to cover mock exams starting later this month, the new rules will see an invigilator of the appropriate sex accompanying teenagers to the toilet area.
In an email to students and parents, the college's principal Paul Ashdown said the regulations were a response to a number of incidents, during which phones were thought to have been hidden in cubicles before the start of exams.
Managers at the college believe the rules will prevent a handful of students from being tempted to cheat, potentially endangering their futures.
In his email, Mr Ashdown explained: "This means that from now on, if a student does require a toilet break during an exam, they will be accompanied into the toilet area by an invigilator of the appropriate sex, and will not be allowed to close the door if they need to use an individual stall.
"Although this may seem a little extreme, it is the only way we can ensure a student does not use a mobile phone while in the toilet.
"Ideally, students should ensure they do not need to break their concentration by going to the toilet in the middle of the exam.
"I know I can rely on you for support with these security measures."
In a statement issued by the college, Mr Ashdown added: "The college is implementing this toilet breaks policy during examinations to make students aware that attempting to cheat is simply not worth it.
"A very small minority of students attempt to cheat and they use increasingly inventive and sophisticated techniques, including using mobile phones smuggled into the toilets.
"However, the consequences of cheating are very severe as students will find themselves disqualified from that exam by the exam board, and possibly even disqualified from all their other exams too.
"We are protecting the future chances of our students by implementing strict security measures.
"The majority of students will not need to use the toilet during an exam, but if they do, our experienced invigilator team will supervise closely, but sensitively, to ensure that no cheating takes place."
A parent of a student at the college, who did not wish to be named, told the Birmingham Mail that the ban "would be degrading to anyone - let alone to kids of 16 and 17".
The parent claimed: "It is a clear disregard for basic human rights and is downright wrong."