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Splash out on pupils' toilets

If your washrooms are dull, a cheerful makeover needn't cost much, writes Marjory Gibson

Toilets may be described as the smallest room but they are often the biggest subject of complaint by pupils. Girls at a little primary school in Fife have proved it does not take a big budget to transform plain toilets.

With just pound;50, pots of imagination and a willing parent, six senior girls have decorated and titivated the loos in the old building of Guardbridge Primary, near St Andrews. In fact, the transformation is the main talking point among the 52 pupils and the boys are trying to work out how they can negotiate a similar deal with headteacher Alana Kent.

Funds for the makeover were raised by the school, explains Mrs Kent. "The school has hugely supportive parents, who help us without being asked, and very inventive children who get involved in school activities and with the wider community," she says.

One of the six girls, Julie Chalmers, says: "The room was plain yellow and a bit bare. We decided we'd like to jazz it up. We went to the pupil council with our idea and they passed it on to Mrs Kent, who said we could have pound;50."

"There was a massive old boiler on the wall and we got that ripped out," says Lana Gray. "Then there was just a boring, black sign saying 'Girls' on the door. Mrs Kent took a photo of all the girls in the school and we scanned it into the computer and made a picture for the toilet door."

Parent Lorna Beaton, who has three children at the school, offered to take the girls shopping and help with a paintbrush.

Her foster daughter, Emma Stockton, says: "Before we started we had some ideas and we drew a plan. We went shopping to Dundee with Mrs Kent and Mrs Beaton and we saw lots of cool stuff."

Chelsea Hunt says the group decided on an ocean theme, using the yellow walls as a background representing sand. "We were going to get tiles for behind the basins but we saw table-mats with crabs on them and decided to use these as splashbacks. We also bought blue and yellow flowers to display."

Now stencilled starfish and dolphins brighten up the walls, transfers decorate the frosted glass panels, mobiles hang from the ceiling and a bead curtain covers some pipes. The look is completed with a small shelving unit that displays shells and ornaments, which were donated by pupils' parents and grandparents.

"We love it. It's brilliant," says Gemma Toner. "We want to stay in there all day!"

The final member of the group, Kimberley Paterson, adds: "I like the dolphins best."

The boys have been curious about the changes. Mrs Beaton says: "When I was painting I had to leave the door open and they would pop their heads around to see what was happening.

"It's been great fun and the girls are really proud. We'd like to finish the toilets off with those transparent toilet seats with daisy and dolphin designs, so we're going to do some more fund-raising."

The consensus from the boys is that the girls now have "really cool" toilets and they would like the same. "The girls' room is a lot better than the boys' now," says Rory Burt. "It's totally different and it would be nice to have ours like that," adds Callum McLeod.

However, there are issues to be resolved first, about how they take care of their toilets. Pupil council member Ryan Gray says: "We're thinking of a monitoring system where seniors would check the toilets regularly and make sure ours are looked after."

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