The Right To Go - education campaign
ERIC launched the Right to Go campaign in early 2014 to highlight every childís right to good care for a continence problem at school and to access safe and hygienic toilet facilities.
The Right to Go campaign calls on schools and UK Governments to ensure that:
- All education settings have appropriate policies and procedures in place to support children with continence problems and promote good bladder and bowel health. Policies should ensure children's rights, views and experiences are listened to in relation to their bladder and bowel needs.
- School toilets are safe, hygienic and well-maintained.
- School toilets are protected by legislation, best practice guidance and effective monitoring.
The scale of the problem
In the UK, 1 in 12 children has an ongoing continence problem, which is often extremely distressing to deal with. In a recent ERIC survey of young people, 72% said their problem sometimes or always stops them taking part in school activities, 69% said they would not feel able to talk to school staff about the problem and almost half said poor school toilet facilities contribute a little or a lot to their difficulty.
Common bladder and bowel problems experienced by children and young people include overactive bladders, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) and constipation. Every year in England alone there are around 15,000 hospital admissions for severe childhood constipation and UTIís Ė 80% of which could be avoided through better care at a primary and community level.
The right support, care and understanding in the school environment can have a significant impact on children affected by continence problems, as well as their families.
The resources below can help schools to implement best practice in relation to support for children with continence problems and the promotion of good bladder and bowel health.
This free, eight page leaflet provides information on the development of childhood continence issues and gives an overview of what schools can do to help manage these issues. It's an ideal resource for parents, teachers and healthcare professionals to download, print off and share within schools. Single, hard copies of the leaflet are also available on request and bulk orders are available.
This 20-page guidance document provides information on the development of common childhood continence problems, how to create a continence policy and individual health care plans, how to promote bladder and bowel health in schools and ways to support children with special needs who have continence issues. The resource is available to download free. It has been produced to enable individual sections and pages of the guide to be copied easily.
Information on school toilet provision
The Right to Go campaign also aims to improve school toilet provision. We know that:
- Medical conditions such as chronic constipation, incontinence and urinary infections are common among children, and can be caused or exacerbated by the avoidance of, or limited access to, school toilets.
- Open access to high quality toilet facilities is crucial to pupils' health and welfare. This can also have a positive influence on pupilsí willingness and ability to learn, their behaviour, morale and attendance levels.
- Many pupils avoid using the toilets at school because they are dirty, smelly, lack basic provisions, are not private enough, or because they are not allowed to go to the toilet when they need to.
Guidance on setting up a School Toilet Policy
While some teachers may feel a formalised policy is unnecessary, a written school toilet policy is a powerful indication to children and parents that teachers value and respect the welfare of their pupils. A policy enables a school to develop and maintain a shared philosophy and co-ordinated approach to their school toilets and when pupils are allowed to use them. It encourages schools to audit the toilets properly and to take into account the needs of pupils. It also pays dividends to actively involve the pupils in establishing and implementing a policy.
For the policy to be effective, it is advisable that the policy be approved by pupils and governors, communicated to the whole school and reviewed yearly.
Download an example School Toilet Policy.
Information about designing school toilets
Well-designed and attractive toilets are a tangible demonstration of respect for pupils. With the right design, layout and choices of finishes and fixtures, school can create toilets which are not only attractive but also safe, durable and low maintenance. Open, bright and attractive toilets will encourage pupils to value themselves and their facilities.
The guidelines 'Toilets in Schools', published by the Department of Education (formerly DfES) in 2007, contains design solutions, drawn up after wide consultation over two years. Although aimed primarily at secondary schools, they contain features that may be of benefit to schools with younger children. The guidelines show how design can be improved to address a number of common failings in school toilet provision and includes strategies for effective maintenance and operation of toilets.
The ERIC School Toilet Award
We know that the quality of school toilets has a huge impact on pupilsí health, education and happiness. Thatís why ERIC developed the School Toilet Award Ė as a way to encourage schools to ensure their toilets meet the needs of pupils, and recognise schools who are achieving excellence in this area.
The School Toilet Award is open to every primary and secondary school, including special schools - maintained and non-maintained - in the UK as well as British schools overseas. There is no cost to schools - entry and support materials are free.
If you would like to enter the School Toilet Award, or would like further information about how to achieve best practice with regards to school toilet provision, please email Rhia Weston, ERICís Communications and Campaigns Manager.
With thanks to Lovair who supports the Right to Go campaign:
Lovair is a leader in washroom design for schools and works to transform school washrooms into welcoming, clean and safe shared spaces.