Have you checked your child’s school toilets? 

28th May 2010

Recent research carried out by the national charity ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) has highlighted the importance of the standard of school toilets and their value to the health and wellbeing of our children. 

Research with schools, school nurses and continence specialists across the UK discovered that 100% of those asked believed there should be a minimum standard for school toilets1. 

Inadequate provision, accessibility and maintenance of primary and secondary school toilets have previously been linked to high numbers of children suffering from constipation2 and toilet related health problems3. 79% of schools from the research recognised this link, and 84% of them felt toilet related health issues could have a negative effect on a child’s learning4. 

These poor standards can mean that children are reluctant to use school toilets, with many trying to hold on all day until they get home. Repeated toilet avoidance can lead to chronic constipation and cause or exacerbate incontinence and urinary infections. Children also fail to drink adequately at school if they do not want to use the toilets or because they are not allowed to use them when they need to.  

Schools are putting the state of their school toilets high on the agenda, 73% of those in the study had had renovations carried out in the past 5 years with 39% stating they did not have any complaints from pupils about the toilets5. However there are still 17% of schools stating they have no funds to renovate their toilets and some of these are over 20 years old6. Problems such as inadequate, smelly facilities lacking in basic supplies such as toilet paper and soap are still being reported in 25% of the schools taking part in the research7. 

The Bog Standard campaign is working to raise standards of provision and access to school toilets in the UK, by getting schools to recognise their value. It encourages parents to view the toilets at their child’s school, especially if they feel their child is not happy to use them.  

From the schools research it was revealed that only 17% of schools very occasionally had a parent ask to view the toilets with 81% never having had a parent ask8. Schools do however value the input and power of parents with 75%9 of them stating they felt that parents can make the difference to change the state of school toilets through lobbying government.  

While the results from the research suggest that an increasing number of schools are improving their toilet facilities, there is still much work to do to achieve acceptable standards in all schools. In the meantime parents can play a role in speaking to their child if they think they may have toilet related health problems. The Bog Standard website provides advice for spotting problems and helping talk to children and the school.

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