A survey of Nursing Times readers and 130 UK schools has identified the main problems surrounding school toilets and prompted calls for a minimum standard for school toilet facilities.
The research, commissioned by ERIC as part of the Bog Standard campaign, found that 25% of schools still had complaints from their pupils. Poor standards of facilities, lack of toilet paper and smelly conveniences were top of the complaints listed. Schools also stated that 36% of staff in the schools are aware that the schools toilets are smelly and that cubicles had missing locks and lacked sufficient supplies of soap.
Schools are making toilet facilities a higher priority with 73% of schools having renovated their toilets in the last 5 years. The remaining 17% of schools claimed no funds to make improvements. Many commented that parent power to help lobby the government to release more funding for schools building maintenance would be valuable.
All schools asked agreed that there should be a minimum standard for school toilets, and 58% felt a school toilet award scheme would encourage schools to raise or maintain standards.
Nursing Times readers all believe that poor school toilets are a contributing factor to incontinence in children. One school nurse comments: “School toilet issues continue to cause children and parents concerns in nursery, primary and secondary school settings. Broken toilet seats, no hand soap, no toilet paper, no lighting, broken locks on doors, no sanitary bins, locked toilets, bullying away from adult supervision are all an issue”.
Nearly half of all continence experts and nurses asked felt that improving school toilets would help the majority of children with toilet related health issues and help them regain continence.
Jenny Perez, Director of ERIC comments; “Our research and contact with families shows that children with continence issues may experience more emotional problems and have lower self-esteem than children without continence problems. A lot of these problems could be avoided or eradicated with improved school toilet facilities, encouraging drinking water during the day and easy accessibility to the toilet. This is not only a health and wellbeing issue for those with continence issues; it affects all children and young people at school and may also affect their academic attainment and attendance levels.”
In excess of one in 12 five to 16 year olds in the UK experience continence problems (bedwetting, daytime wetting and soiling). Inadequate provision, accessibility and maintenance of primary and secondary school toilets have been linked to the high number of children suffering from constipation and toilet related health problems.