Students at Werrington County Public School in Sydney’s west have reportedly been forced to urinate in communal buckets inside a storeroom closet during a school lockdown.
The primary school was put into an emergency lockdown on Monday after an incident with a student sparked safety concerns.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said what has happed is “totally unacceptable” and “not in line with normal protocol”.
“There are a lot of protocols that clearly appear to have not been followed here, which is why this needs to be fully investigated immediately,” she said.
“Even in lockdown situations, there is normally a process where students can be escorted to the bathroom safely.”
“I’ve never heard of having to make students go to the toilet in a bucket – it is not acceptable”.
A letter to parents and carers from the school’s principle Belinda Clarke said the students were locked down for “approximately two hours”.
Parents of students who attend Werrington Country Public School have disputed this timeframe.
Mother Amanda told 2GB Radio: “Our children were put into a lockdown at about 11 o’clock, at the start of recess, and they were in lockdown until 3pm. Until they finished school.”
Questions have been raised asking why police were not notified.
One student’s father Scott told 2GB radio he thinks the school responded appropriately, but that “teachers are not supposed to be social workers” and that this incident highlights “the pressure we put onto teachers.”
“If they thought that it was serious enough incident to lock the kids in the classroom and make them urinate into buckets, surely they would’ve called the police,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car said the situation is very concerning.
“It is just incredible that this happened.”
“Imagine your child coming home and telling you that. It is shocking.”
When the Department of Education was first contacted for response, the claim was refuted.
Ms Mitchell said her office originally lacked information.
“I wasn’t even aware that the school had gone into lockdown yesterday, which is very against the normal procedure,” she said.
“I am normally notified of anything that is this serious.”