WE are a large city comprehensive and we too experienced similar problems to the ones described in your article on school toilets (TES, March 7).
However, as part of a major private finance initiative project with Jarvis, we have created a large motorway services-type facility, centrally positioned, rather than several smaller blocks around the school. The washing area is communal which has a civilising effect on the pupils and seems to discourage them from lingering.
But the major reason for its success is the appointment of a full-time toilet attendant who has her own office within the washing area. She is always on duty and is encouraged to take pride in her domain. She has asked us to put flowers and pictures in there, which we have willingly done. The soap and toilet paper are replenished as and when necessary.
Pupils are delighted because the toilets are now a pleasure to use and are not threatening or unhealthy. They are also taking a pride in the facility.
So far, the concept has worked brilliantly, with not a hint of vandalism or graffiti anywhere. But we are not looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses and have instituted preventative measures. The toilet attendant cleans and inspects the facilities at regular intervals and fills in a time sheet to record this. In this way, any problems with vandalism or graffiti can be narrowed down to a specific time.
There is a closed-circuit television camera trained on the entrance to the toilets (which in no way impinges on pupils' privacy) and so a record of who was using the toilets at that time can be quickly ascertained, and the culprits discovered.
Several local schools have already visited us to see the facility and have gone away much impressed and determined to try to do something similar in their own establishment.
John Thorne Deputy head Dorothy Stringer school Brighton