'More Than a Loo’ Competition: The School Toilet Challenge
|Start Date: 13/10/2004 Finish Date: 17/06/2005|
Days Remaining: None, competition has ended.
For a list of the winning schools, scroll down to the end of the page.
Feedback from the More Than a Loo competition entries
We received nearly 550 entries from over a thousand pupils in England.
We were hugely impressed by the overall high standard of entries and the amount of work and enthusiasm that many pupils had put into their entry. Pupils are clearly motivated to try and get decent toilets they can be proud of.
Every school wrote on their entry form that the competition had been worthwhile and many teachers and heads added that, regardless of whether they won or not, they would be looking to improve the toilets with the help of their pupils. That is good news indeed!
Pupils’ design priorities
There were many different themes in the entries from football to beaches, but all the designs clearly demonstrated pupils’ priorities of privacy, hygiene, and the creation of a clean, bright and colourful environment, stocked with the essentials we all need, like soft toilet paper, soap and hand drying facilities.
Pupils want indoor social spaces
Pupils’ designs highlighted the need for indoor social spaces where they could sit, linger, chat with friends, eat or drink. Some pupils designed their toilets to help fulfil this need. It is evident that most pupils don’t have anywhere else in the school to go to - only a playground that is cold in winter or hot in summer. Some adults can doubtless remember trying to huddle around a radiator in the toilets before being sent back to the playground! A few more fortunate pupils are allowed to stay in their classrooms during breaks. We would be concerned about creating a social space within the toilets, as some pupils' designs wanted, as this perpetuates problems in the toilets, such as group or gang ownership, and discourages others from going to the toilet. Other more suitable areas in the school need to be created for safe internal social spaces. This is something that the government is encouraging in new builds, for example, through its Building Schools for the Future programme: “intimate or covered outdoor areas as a space to socialise during breaks, and … extra internal space for this” (Schools for the Future, Exemplar Designs book, DfES, page 10)
Pupils want safe and secure toilets
Many children were concerned for their safety and for ensuring the toilets were not abused. Most wanted the toilets to be supervised during breaks by teachers and/or by fellow pupils. Some wanted scanning handprints at the main entrance, or swipe cards, in an effort to dissuade toilet abuse and misuse.
Many children were ecologically aware e.g. not wanting to waste loo paper, wanting hand dryers as opposed to paper towels.
Most frequently mentioned toilet problems:
State of the toilets
Toilets too small in size and height (inappropriate for age)
Lack of privacy (cubicles/doors too low)
Locks don’t work
Broken or missing loo seats
No loo paper or shiny non-absorbent “tracing paper”
No warm water
Taps don’t run long enough
Fear of bullying in toilets
Boring, institutional toilets
Not being allowed to use the toilets when they need to
Trying to ‘hang on’ all day to avoid using the toilets
Most frequently mentioned wish list
Clean and hygienic (mentioned as no 1 priority)
Decoration e.g. pictures, murals
Flush handles (no more chains) or no–touch sensor flush
Less urinals and more cubicle toilets for boys
No-touch sensor taps with warm water
Liquid soap dispensers (no more dirty, germ-ridden bars of soap)
Automatic hand dryers
Toilet paper in all cubicles
Soft, absorbent loo paper (no more shiny, hard paper)
Dry, non-slip floors
Locks that work
Doors and cubicles suitabe heights to offer privacy
More toilets, so less queues
Pupils allowed to go to the toilet when they need to
Music to calm and cover up embarassing noises
And pupils are quick to lay part of the blame at their own door too.
They want fellow pupils to:
Aim straight - not miss the toilet!
Flush the toilet
Put paper towels in the bin
Stop throwing wet paper on ceilings
Stop blocking the toilets
Comments from teachers suggest that it is not always the pupils' fault that toilets, for example, are left unflushed. Some teachers mentioned that the toilets are difficult to flush or that the toilets are so old they need total refurbishment. One teacher wrote that their toilets were over fifty years old!
Some of the pupils’ design ideas:
Lots of vivid use of colour to get away from institutional feel
Colourful murals designed by pupils
Tiles decorated and signed by each pupil
Individually themed cubicles with matching themed lights and washing facilities e.g. castle, jungle
Communal washing basin
Positive messages written in mirrors or floors
No-touch taps, flushes, lights
Lights in the floor that turn on when walked on
Bright colours in the washrooms to discourage lingering but more peaceful colours in the cubicles
Eco-friendly lights and hand drying facilities
Urinal target games (e.g. dart board bull’s eye in the toilets/urinals which would make weeing fun and more accurate!)
Video news programmes on back of doors
Music to cover embarrassing noises and create a calm ambience
Messages of encouragement to promote hand washing
Rules of toilet use devised by the pupils and included in posters
Vandal-proof walls and fittings
Clean school toilets with bright colours, absorbent loo paper, locks that work and hand washing facilities is surely not too much to ask?
Quotes from pupils and teachers
“When you walk in you just want to walk straight back out because it really stinks.”
Robert Chamberlain, Aged 10, Briary School, Herne Bay, Kent
“Where do we start with the state of the toilets? They smell – all through the school. The locks don’t lock properly so you have to try and hold the door shut when you’re on the toilet. The toilets are dark and the cubicles are too small. There’s smoke and graffiti everywhere. There’s often no toilet paper or even soap. There’s no hot water. Most of the sinks are blocked. There’s no ventilation. The toilets are usually locked so we can’t use them. Apparently the toilets are cleaned every day, though you’d never believe it.”
Pupils from KS3, Aldergrange Community and Technology School, Lancashire.
“Our toilets are smelly, the locks are broken, taps don’t work, radiators don’t work, people wee on the floor and there is no decoration.”
Luke, Brandon, Charlie, Aged 8 and 9, Ashford South Community Primary, Kent
“Out toilets are horrible and smelly. The plaster is coming off the wall. The middle toilet doesn’t have a door. The left toilet doesn’t have a seat. The right side hasn’t got a lock. Please make our dream come true for new toilets.”
Chloe and Grace, KS2, Tomlinson Junior, Wigton, Cumbria
“If we had clean nice toilets it would look like everybody cares about our school. We would like to be a healthy school and have clean toilets. If we had nice toilets all the pupils will feel happy and look after the new toilets.”
Stephanie and Kabeer, Bishop Winnington Ingram, Middlesex, London
“Out toilets are very dark and smelly. I think an extractor fan would make the toilets a lot better. Also good quality toilet paper would be nice. A talking toilet would be fun where the toilet says “Please remember to flush”. Our toilets are also dull and boring but that would soon be changed by having brightly coloured doors, floors and walls.”
Danielle Graham aged 11, Rookhope Primary School, Co Durham
Toilet trouble poem
“The toilets are plain and really small
The toilets are smelly and graffiti galore
Save the toilets, save the toilets
Nobody flushes and the soap is all skank
Bits are broken and the floor is all mank
Save the toilets, save the toilets
Some lights are broken and there’s litter on the floor
It’s dark and it’s dank and the locks are broken on the door
Save the toilets, save the toilets
The handles are broken and the pipes go BANG
Twist the taps and they’ll go CLANG
Save the toilets, save the toilets”
Lottie, Alicia, Hayley, Jo and Abbie, Year 6, Holy Trinity School, Kidderminster, Worcs
“Our toilets are dark, cold, gloomy and depressing and no one likes going in them. “
Halwin School, Helston, Cornwall. Mentioned in every entry from Year 6.
“Our toilet design will not be vandalised because they will look so good that no one will want to spoil them.”
Ethan Field, Zak Chester, Daniel Whitewell, Meadowside Junior, KS2, Kettering, Northants
“Some adults might argue that our toilets are fine but the toilets really smell, there are cracks in the wall, they are a despicable colour, and the sinks and toilets are old and worn out.”
Sarah Turner, Aged 10, Briary Primary, Herne Bay, Kent
“Despite our cleaner cleaning them every day after school, they are still stinky. Please could you do something to our horrible, disgusting, smelly toilets?”
Kayleigh, aged 10, Briary School, Herne Bay, Kent
“Although we have a sensational caretaker, the design of the toilets make them arduous to maintain. We’d love to win this competition because we’re the last year 7’s of the school and we’d like to design good toilets for future users.”
Pupils of Alphington Combined School, Exeter
“It would be nice if children’s names and their pictures could be put on tiles so that everyone would know that we had designed the toilets ourselves and that would make us feel very proud. “
Liam, school council rep for year 5, St Aiden’s Primary, Huyton, Merseyside
“St Aiden’s children had a lot of fun and came up with some brillinat, innovative and challenging design ideas. Our school council was responsible for organising the competition and choosing the entries. The children deliberated long and hard to design our toilets.”
Teacher, St Aiden’s Primary, Huyton, Merseyside
“Most of the children just want bright, non-smelly toilets.”
School Council, Falconhurst Combined School, Milton Keynes
“Our pupils suggested the toilets are monitored by the School Council members on a rota basis. The caretaker should inspect them after morning break. They would also have a book or whiteboard to leave messages for the caretaker if there were any problems.”
Deputy Head, Falconhurst Combined School, Milton Keynes
“We have had a fantastic time undertaking our work for the "More than a Loo” competition. The children undertook the work in design and technology lessons, but have got so much out of it including teamwork, social skills, research skills and using maths skills. Out toilets are in a very poor condition. Despite every attempt from our site manager, they smell badly and this makes the whole of our teaching area unpleasant.”
Teachers, Dranhall Primary School, Cheshire
“The children have worked democratically and tirelessly. We hope you will enjoy reading the outcome as much as we have enjoyed the process.”
Headteacher, Alphington Combined School, Alphington, Exeter.
“This has been a very worthwhile project. Even if we don’t win we have learnt an awful lot about how the children use the toilets and what we need to do to improve them.”
Headteacher, Bishop Bronscombe C of E School, St Austell, Cornwall