Earlier this week, I outed the grim state of school toilets on Tes. Too many have broken locks, broken doors, overflowing sanitary bins, hordes of bullies waiting for their next victim – and others just plain stink. And pupils are missing school as a result.
Thankfully, some schools are getting it right. Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, a secondary school in Lincolnshire, have replaced all of their old toilet facilities with their "superloos" – a large, purpose-built toilet area that is always staffed, regularly cleaned and feels safe for everybody to use.
“There’s a large entrance, a handwashing area as you walk in, then male toilets to the left and female to the right,” says one staff member. “No kids are scared of going to the toilet because there is a supervisor, and they have to have a pass from a staff member to go in during lessons, so it’s definitely not a place to skive off like when I was at school."
While this set-up sounds ideal as a long-term solution, many school budgets won’t stretch that far. But we can still take some tips from the superloos to improve our facilities:
If your school cannot provide a staff member to clean toilet areas throughout the day, consider asking a couple of pupils to be toilet monitors, responsible for picking up paper towels, flushing unflushed toilets, reporting blockages and wiping down sinks a couple of times per day.
Keep an eye on behaviour
Whoever is on break duty needs to regularly check the toilets and root out any troublemakers. Once they know that somebody is watching, the attraction of hanging around toilets is likely to fade.
Ensure adequate privacy
Install child-friendly, easy-to-open locks and regularly check that they aren’t broken.
Provide good handwashing facilities
Ensure that there is enough soap and that hand dryers are working or plenty of paper towels are provided. Washable towels are not hygienic when so many children are using them.
Consider issuing toilet passes during lesson times
Some children may be scared of going into the toilets at break times. While not ideal, passes could help while the bullying issue is dealt with.
And, importantly, if you are the last school in the UK to still be using tracing-paper toilet roll, do everyone’s backsides a favour and bin it.
Lisa Jarmin is a freelance writer