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School toilets

Many schools around the UK have a policy of locking school toilets during lesson times, with some even keeping them shut during breaks between classes.

But what happens if you are stopped from going to the toilet when you need to? And when you are able to use the toilets, are they in good, clean working order?

As a recent Newsround report highlights, common complaints from children include loos smelling bad, no toilet paper, blocked loos and no soap to wash your hands with.

Unfortunately, there's no law stopping schools from locking toilets during lessons, but that doesn't mean they should do it! Banning toilet breaks shows a lack of understanding of pupils' health needs and a lack of respect for children.

Being able to use the toilet when you need to is a basic human right. It's also important to remember that everyone has a part to play in using school toilets sensibly and with respect. 

What can you do if your school decides to lock the toilets? 

  • Ask for a meeting with your teachers so you can tell them the reasons why not being allowed to go isn’t good for anyone. Explain the effect it can have on your health and ability to concentrate in class. Let them know it’s important for children who’ve got an invisible bowel or bladder problem and may feel too nervous to ask for a toilet pass.

  • Explain to school that our bladders and bowels work to our own timetable and not the schools! It’s not a rule that we ask grownups to stick to when they’re at work so why should children be treated differently?

  • Encourage pupils at your school to sign a pledge not to abuse their right to go to the toilet during lessons and promise to keep the toilets clean and tidy. Make the toilets a place that everyone needs to value and respect. Try to get into the habit of using the toilet at break and lunch time.

  • Ask if your school has a toilet policy (all schools should do) and suggest that the views of pupils are included in the policy and making sure everyone sticks to it. ERIC has a School Toilet Charter which you could ask your school to adopt. All teachers should then know what the policy says so everyone follows the same rules.

  • Talk to your school council, they can raise the issue with the school governing body.

  • Set up a petition to get the school to reverse the policy and get backing from students and parents. Find out from your friends what’s stopping them from going to the toilet at break or lunch time. Are there enough toilets for everyone to use? Have you got enough time to go during breaks?

Check out our School Toilet Charter