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4 yo - At infant school for one week, then they cut his hours

Hi, all. I'm new here but should have got involved much sooner...

My son turned four last month and started school a week ago. He's young!

Toilet training has been a problem. He started very well, and just as he seemed to have it down with no problem, he started a new nursery and it all started to go wrong. He was having so many accidents they cut his hours and we moved him to another, more supportive nursery who were great.

Throughout the summer, we met with the teachers of his new infant school and explained that toileting wasn't there yet, and they were reassuring and lovely. We very much got the impression that they were used to this and were ready to provide support. They phoned the day before he started school for an update. We told them that toileting was a little better by that time, most wees going in the toilet, poos only in pants though, apart from maybe one or two a week. ("Daddy, I need a poo!" is the most wonderful phrase to me right now! Rare and wonderful.)

A week ago he started school. Half-days for the first half of the week, then full-time on Thursday and Friday. On collecting him on Friday, his teacher informed my wife that they would be cutting his hours from Monday.

Needless to say we are all gutted. He was loving his new school, and sees it as a punishment that he can't be there for the whole day. My wife and I are deeply disappointed that the teacher (we've yet to speak to the head - will arrange to meet in the week) has made this decision, and so soon! To be honest, seeing as this is 'proper school' I didn't even think they were able to exclude pupils for part of the day over something like this. Can they do this? According to the ERIC website,

"A delay in achieving continence - or not being toilet trained - can be considered a disability. It is therefore not acceptable for a school to refuse admission to children who have not yet mastered potty training or are still in nappies."

Does this apply? The school isn't technically refusing admission, but they are reducing the amount of time they're prepared to admit him.

My son's toilet actually hasn't been that bad at school throughout the week! He's been weeing in their urinal with no problems, has had one poo accident on the Thursday and the Friday, maybe a wee accident in the week. They even said they don't have the facilities to dispose of soiled pants, so they'd have to be brought home in his school bag. Poor boy. As if this wasn't stressful enough, they're expecting him to carry around his smelly pants. I'm happy to buy them a bin!

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Can anyone offer any advice?

I'm trying to find out what the government legislation is on this (if there is any) and will be phoning the ERIC helpline tomorrow, and arranging to meet the school's head as soon as possible. Any comments or similar experiences would be very welcome!

12 Replies

Are you based in the U.K.? Did they give a reason for reducing hours, i.e. We cannot accept him full days because...

I would ask to speak to the head/ Senco and put a care plan in place, you can also contact school nurse team for assistance, speak to school or your gp.

A lot of children have accidents in reception, the big change etc, so I can't imagine exclusion on the basis of this would be acceptable, unless they think your son isn't coping in other ways.

Really bad start to school for you though, I really feel for you.

My daughter is 7 and has an overactive bladder, developed this in reception following an illness and my little boy (not great with toileting, he is very immature) the routine has really helped him and he has done really well, no accidents so far, especially with poo's the routine has done wonders.

Good luck, keep talking to them xx


Thank you! Yes, we're in the UK.

The teacher gave two reasons - my son hadn't told her that he'd poo'd himself (very common for him), and she was concerned about how long he might have been in that state. The second reason was resources. Apparently it was taking too long for the teaching assistant to go and clean him up.

That's the first I've heard of SENCO, so thank you and I'll contact them tomorrow.

Best of luck with yours!


So, if you ask to speak to the senco, (special educational needs coordinator) with regards to the issue and I would put it back to them, this is the issue, how are school going to help your son integrate into school. My daughter has a care plan, which includes regular drinking and toileting, she can't eat dairy products (affects wetting) or drink juice (again affects wetting) she has a special watch called a wobl watch to remind her to go to the toilet. Try GP, school nurse and senco and get some support. If they take your little boy regularly to the toilet, hopefully the issue will resolve a little. Possibly GP may refer you to continence team who can give you some support.

Best of luck


I don't think they can do that. My daughter has just started and they have made a care plan, the staff all know that she has problems and she has her own bag with spare stuff/wipes etc on her peg. They have to be able to change them and dispose of soiled clothes any young child could have an accident. I would def argue your case it's a health issue.


School have a legal duty of care and cannot reduce his hours because of a health issue.


I could understand if your son was getting distressed, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I hope the school SENCO is good/supportive. I would challenge any decision school makes that you are not comfortable with. Ultimately, look for a school that will support him if you are not getting anywhere. My son is much older, he has just started secondary school. We chose a small, caring school and the difference in him is huge. His primary school was unkind and restricted him going to the toilet... I didn't know, but he wasn't drinking to avoid having accidents. Caused all sorts of problems, impacted bowels etc...

I hope you get a positive response or contact the education department if you don't.


Wow, I cannot believe the school has done that - pretty sure it is against legislation. My son is now year 2 and has an overactive bladder, and has wet himself daily since he started at the school (and since potty training). His school has been very supportive and helpful.

I'm sorry that you aren't getting the support you need, but please stand your ground and fight this politely but firmly. The ERIC helpline may have further advice on how to do this.

Good Luck xx


Thanks so much for all your comments - they're very reassuring and it's great to know my son isn't the only one taking a little longer to get the hang of this!

We had a positive development this morning. My wife phoned and spoke to his teacher (a different, more senior teacher - my son has one teacher for the first half of the week, and another for the second half)

That teacher felt it wasn't appropriate (for him or the school) to reduce his hours and so he's back on full time.

It turns out that my wife has already met the SENCO and has a care plan (arranged before he started school) so I've no idea why one teacher felt she could make such a decision, seemingly without consulting her colleagues, let alone us.

Anyway, apart from the ongoing toilet challenges, this seems to be resolved for now. A distressing situation, and it certainly won't have helped my son. I'll post more info if something changes.

Thanks again!


Have you called the local authority for their advice.

1 like

Glad to hear this update.


You are certainly not alone with this, my daughter solied her pants at school quite a lot in reception (and still on occasion in year 1 and 2) on her first day in reception they had to put her in the shower as too much poo to deal with. I was so upset for her (she thought it was fun!) her teachers have been brilliant over the years (now in year 3) she still has her 'supplies' in her bag, knickers, wipes and small bin bag) the teachers used to assist her with cleaning up and the knickers went in the bag and in school bag. A bit of a smelly situation at times.

I think if it's medical people are more understanding. I was always very open with my daughters teachers, gave them regular updates on laxative prescriptions, doctors visits etc. Must be a bit horrid for them to have to deal with but I figure if you chose to work with primary kids you must be prepared slightly for toilet issues, nits, worms and all other primary school issues that exist?

My friends son also had a lot of poo issues and regularly had to be cleaned up at school, again teachers were great and they said was quite common at their school (all boys school)

I'm really pleased you are getting help now with this, it's so distressing for a parent when you aren't around to deal with it.

Hope things continue to get better for you all...


My daughter started school last week. She doesn't soil but wets daily ( possibly overactive bladder, not sure yet). I met the senco last week and she wrote a care plan. They check her hourly and change her in a toilet that the other children won't be in, so they won't notice her being changed. She's only doing half days and has been changed 7/9 days so far!

She's older than your son. She's 5 next month!


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