The law on toilet provision for pupils in comparison with legislation for adults
The law on toilet provision for pupils
England and Wales
The only specific legislation on toilets for pupils in England and Wales is Statutory Instrument No. 2 ‘The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999’. This law specifies the number of toilets and washbasins that pupils must have. There is no mention in the legislation of cleanliness, privacy or condition.
This law set out the number of toilets and washbasins that should be provided according to the number of pupils in all existing and new maintained schools.
The law also states that toilet areas for male and female pupils over the age of 8 must be separate. separate. Toilets used by girls must not have urinals. Staff toilets, other than those designated for disabled access, must be separate from pupils’ toilets.
The Regulations state that providing the basic number of sanitary facilities will not, by itself, mean that all the relevant standards have been met. The number of toilet facilities must be adequate having regard to the ages, gender and numbers of the pupils and any relevant special requirements they may have. They should never be fewer than as set out in The Education (School Premises) Regulations.
Calculating pupils’ ages
Pupils’ ages are defined on the day before the start of the autumn term. For example, if a pupil is four on that day but turns five a few days later, the regulations would still count him/her as a four-year-old for the rest of the academic year.
There is accompanying guidance on the Regulations called: Standards for School Premises; Guidance: Management & Finance 2000; For Local education authorities, Headteachers & governors; Ref DFEE 0029/2000. This explains the law in greater detail.
The Local Education Authority (LEA) is responsible for ensuring school premises conform to minimum standards. For approved independent schools it is the proprietor and for non-maintained special schools it is the governors. In practice, responsibility is usually devolved from the LEA to the school itself, so this means it is the responsibility of the Head and the Board of Governors.
The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations
The legislation requires the following minimum numbers:
In addition there shall be
The Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI) School Building Handbooks
Other relevant legislation for pupils
While not specifically mentioning toilets, the Education Act of 2002 places responsibility for "safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children who are pupils at the school" with the LEA and the governing body of the school. It also states that LEAs and governing bodies are required to consult with pupils in connection with the taking of decisions affecting their welfare.
You can find The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 mentioned above at: www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si1999/19990002.htm
The 2002 Education Act is available at: www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020032.htm
The law on toilet provision for adults
The law on toilet provision for pupils only sets out the number of toilets and washbasins that should be provided. In stark contrast, adults in the workplace, including school staff, are covered by comprehensive legislation and guidance.
These set out the following requirements for employers.
Visit www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si1992/Uksi_19923004_en_1.htm for further information on these Regulations.
2. The Health and Safety Commission Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Approved Code of Practice L24
This accompanies the above legislation and gives detailed advice on good practice to comply with the law. The Code also has statutory status i.e. is compulsory.
3. Health and Safety Executive ‘Welfare at Work: Guidance for Employers on Welfare Provisions’
This gives practical advice on how employers can meet the requirements of the Workplace Regulations. It also states that consideration must be given to employees with disabilities and reinforces the need for thorough cleaning regimes, maintaining the facilities in good condition and ensuring adequate provision of toilet paper, soap and hand drying materials at all times. It asks employers “Would YOU be happy to use the welfare facilities you provide for your employees?”
Adults are also covered by the following legislation.
4. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
This sets out the Health and Safety at Work legislation on which all subsequent related legislation is based. The legislation places the responsibility on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This act established the Health and Safety Commission, which sets out specific health and safety regulations. It also established the Health and Safety Executive which enforces the act by means of an inspectorate with extensive powers.
5. Statutory Instrument No. 2 ‘The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999’
This legislation applies to school staff (as well as pupils).
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