Published: 12:00, 28 April 2014
Children as old as 11 are being sent to Kent's schools while still using nappies or pull-ups, it's been revealed.
Research released today by the National Foundation for Educational Research revealed almost one in 10 heads and senior staff reported a child aged between five and seven wearing a nappy to school.
But one senior teacher in Kent said she was aware of one 11-year-old in the county who wears pull-ups at night.
Nationally almost one in 20 heads and senior staff said that in the last year a child aged seven to 11 had worn a nappy to school.
And 1% of classroom teachers surveyed had experience of older children in nappies.
The survey was completed by 602 teachers in primary schools and 561 teachers in secondary schools across the country.
Anne-Marie Middleton, deputy head of Warden House Primary School in Deal, said she was aware of children going to school in nappies or pull-ups.
She said: "We are seeing primary school-aged children wear nappies or pull-ups.
"It's something the school nursing services advocates not using: go from nappies to knickers or underpants, but don't use pull-ups, because children don't get trained that way.
"We are seeing more and more children like this - and we don't always know about all of them, and the nurseries don't always tell us, or if children don't go to nurseries, nobody knows."
She said the issue appeared to be on the increase.
Ms Middleton added: "I know of an 11-year-old who is still wearing pull-ups at night.
"It's sort of a hidden area. Parents don't want to talk about it; children don't want to talk about it."
But she said the issue could be resolved, once identified, within a matter of weeks in all but the youngsters with underlying health complaints.
Janet Marsh, a health visitor with the Kent Community Health NHS Trust, echoed the concerns.
She said: "It's an incredibly serious situation.
"It has been known for children to have lost 25% of their education in reception in order to be changed."
She said that great a loss in the early years could have a lasting legacy on their education.
She also said it was embarrassing for the children who are not potty trained.
"It has been known for children to have lost 25% of their education in reception in order to be changed" - Janet Marsh
Ms Marsh added: "How embarrassing to still be in nappies at four or five years old, or when they are staying with friends at sleep-overs when they are older.
"That's a huge impact - as well as being the child that's smelly or not wanting to be played with."
She claimed the issue was that nappies were too good these days, so children never felt the discomfort of being wet, so they didn't learn.
Parents often didn't pick up on the cues, but they also often didn't want their children to grow up. There was a lack of knowledge.
Ms Marsh said it was everybody's responsibility - including the parents, the school, health visitors and nurseries - to ensure children were properly potty trained.
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