What parents can do
This information is also available in a printable
There are lots of things that parents can do to help improve pupils' toilets.
Bear in mind that schools have limited resources. They may not be aware
of the problems, or of the long-term health effects of poor toilets and
inadequate access. A friendly approach, working together and offering
solutions will be much more effective than criticism and conflict.
Have a look at the factsheet Background
information for parents which may answer some of the questions you
may have about your child’s school toilets.
Involving your child
- Ask your child about their toilets, so you can be sure of your facts.
When are pupils allowed access to the toilets? What sort of state are
the toilets in? Is there enough privacy?
- Your child could do a survey to find out what other pupils think about
the toilets. They can use our printable
- What does s/he think should be done about the toilets? Does s/he have
any suggestions or ideas?
- If your school has a school council, encourage your child to ask his
or her representative to speak at the next meeting (and all subsequent
- If s/he wants to, your child can organise a petition amongst pupils.
They can make their own form, or use this
- Schools are most sensitive to comments when you're a prospective parent
so always ask to be shown the pupils' toilets when you make a visit
- and comment on what you find. Schools will be keen to show you their
IT suite (that pupils may use only once a week) but be sure to show
them that the toilets (that pupils should be using several times a day)
are high on your list of priorities. Don't just visit the toilets on
Open Day when you would expect to find clean toilets, but also try to
visit them during a normal working day.
- Ask prospective schools when children are allowed to visit the toilets.
Ask several pupils too.
- Regularly take a look at the pupils' toilets when you're in school/picking
your child up. It's a good idea to ask permission from a teacher and
have them escort you into the toilets. Being escorted protects you from
a possible misinterpretation of your motives - and serves to make staff
aware that you are interested in the state of the toilets.
- Ask if school staff go into the pupils' toilets regularly to check
them and/or supervise during breaks. We sympathize that staff may not
want this added to their already long list of duties, and supervision
of toilets is a contentious issue - some staff argue that it is not
their role to go into pupils' toilets. However, if staff do not go into
the toilets then these can deteriorate into an adult-free zone where
intimidation, bullying and vandalism can occur.
- Don't forget to check out the drinking water facilities too and pupils
access to these. See the Water
is Cool in School website for more information.
- Would you be happy to use the pupils' toilets?
Talking to teachers, the head and governors
- If access to toilets is restricted, raise the issue of access with
your child's teacher and follow this up with a letter, copied to the
headteacher and/or governors.
- Raise the issue of pupil toilets calmly and politely with the headteacher
and school governors (ask them to visit the pupils' toilets - some governors
may never have done so).
- Contact the school nurse to ask if s/he can talk to the school about
this issue (the school office can give you contact details).
- Talk to other parents - what do their children think?
- Tell your school about the Bog Standard campaign and/or this website.
- Put up a poster/flyer/leaflet with the headteacher's permission. Get
a poster to print off here.
- The government is providing record funding for improving and building
new secondary and primary schools over the next few years. Now is the
chance to focus on toilet design. In primary schools, encourage the
school to consider providing toilets (single toilet or two toilets –
one for girls and another for boys) with each classroom (or classroom
cluster) so that access would be from the classroom and under supervision.
In secondary schools, encourage the school to consider smaller groups
of toilets and to look at our page for Designers
Working with pupils, teachers and other
- Find out what your PTA is doing about the pupils' toilets.
- Suggest the PTA fundraises to improve the toilets.
- Seek permission to form a working party with pupils to paint the toilets,
put up colourful tiles, create a mural - cosmetic changes can help raise
morale and encourage pupils to look after toilets.
- Tap into the skills and contacts of parents and governors to make
- About every three years an inspection team from Ofsted inspects your
child’s school. The school will know this about two to three days
before the inspection.
- As a parent of a child at the school, you will be given a questionnaire
to fill in. This is an ideal opportunity to mention the school toilets
and raise your concerns.
- You can also mention any concerns with drinking water provision and
- Now included in Ofsted inspections is “the extent to which the
provision contributes to the learners’ capacity to stay safe and
- You can write directly to the chief inspector, whose name and contact
details should be provided by the school.
- The more parents mention the toilets, the more the toilets will be
- Appeal for sponsorship to fund refurbishments from local businesses
through an open letter to readers in your local paper or approach businesses
- Invite sponsorship of a full-time toilet supervisor/cleaner. Write
an open letter to readers in your local paper or approach businesses
- Talk to the headteacher about any funding opportunities available
through the LEA or from the government.
- Discuss the issues of funding for the toilets with the headteacher
and then with his/her backing get the governors to inspect the toilets
and make improving them a priority in the next year's budget.
- If you have any disabled pupils, schools now have to have the correct
facilities. This could mean getting a refurbishment carried out by your
- Open a printable factsheet
Petitions and letters
- If, having done all this, or having failed to get the staff on side,
you consider that the school is not taking toilets (the state of them
or issues of access) seriously enough, why not start a petition, or
encourage the pupils to do so?
- Write to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills at Sanctuary
Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT. He or she has the power
to direct schools to meet regulations.
- Encourage your child to write to
their regional Children’s Commissioner.
- Send a lobby letter to
You can get letter templates from the
Bog Standard website and can adapt them to cover the precise issues
that affect your school. There are also letter writing tips and how
to contact people
- the school's headteacher
- school governors
- your local MP
- your Local Education Authority
- the Department for Education and Skills (DfES)
- the Department of Health (DH)
- Write to the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to ask them
to bring the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 in line with
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992). This
is also the place to write to for complaints about schools not meeting
the standards - which for pupils is limited merely to the number of
toilets and washrooms per pupil. The address is: School Premises Team,
DfES, Caxton House, Room 762, 6-12 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NF.
For more information about the law on toilet provision for adults and
for pupils, look at the legislation factsheet on the Information section
of the website.
- Write to your local paper.
Talk to us
- Give us your feedback - we post
some of the comments that we receive unless you ask us not to.
- Contact us by email, phone or post. It
would be useful if you could send us a copy of any replies you receive
from your lobby letters. Contact us by email
- The more people that talk to us, the more support we will have for
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