ERIC has welcomed a campaign from the Scottish Children's Commissioner for new guidelines on school toilets, to ensure that the quality of facilities is monitored and guaranteed.

The campaign was informed by three pieces of research, including a major review of studies into children's experiences of school toilets and the impacts on their health, an Ipsos MORI poll of 2,000 young people and a debate attended by over 900 primary school pupils.

Scottish Children's Commissioner, Tam Baillie, said the quality of school toilets must be guaranteed to ensure "dignified and safe facilities".

Local authority umbrella body Cosla expressed support for the campaign but raised concerns that improvements to facilities might entail significant extra spending that councils do not have.

Jenny Perez, ERIC's Director said: "We strongly support this campaign for new, enforceable guidelines on school toilets in Scotland, and would like to see Governments across the UK follow Scotland's lead. We know that school toilets are often unhygienic, poorly maintained and lacking in privacy. This situation poses a serious infection risk and can contribute to children developing ongoing continence problems, with their associated physical, emotional and psychological implications. In one recent study, 84% of school staff stated that they believed these health issues would have an impact on learning.

"There are also around 76,000 children under 15 with existing bladder and bowel problems in Scotland, and in order to manage their problems effectively, it’s vital that they are able to use safe, hygienic facilities and are allowed access to toilets when necessary.

"Adults don’t have to put up with poor toilet facilities, so why should children? School toilet facilities should be protected by legislation in the same way as workplaces are for adults.”

Help for schools

Schools across the UK who are looking for support to improve pupils' toilet facilities are encouraged to visit the Right to Go page of this website, where we provide information on setting up a school toilet policy, best practice on designing school toilets and where you can download ERIC's Guide to Managing Continence in Schools and Early Years Settings.