Until adequate standards for school toilets are in place, it is the job of individual schools to improve their toilet facilities. Not all schools will do this, however, without an added incentive, which can come in the form of pressure from parents and pupils.

Nicola Maybury is one such parent who successfully pressed her son's school to improve its toilet facilities. This is the story of how she used the information provided on ERIC's website about how good school toilets can improve children’s health and wellbeing to campaign for better facilities.

Nicola's Story

The toilets at my son’s school were in a bad state and I wanted to get the school to improve them. I knew other parents felt the same way and that children had complained about the facilities.

Eager to find out whether minimum standards for school toilets existed, I searched online and stumbled across ERIC’s website where I discovered lots of information about how good toilets can improve children’s wellbeing and have a positive knock-on effect on their performance at school.

Hard to ignore evidence

I got in touch with ERIC to find out what to do to improve the situation at my son’s school.

Using evidence from ERIC’s website about the benefits of good toilet facilities, I put together a comprehensive document outlining how the school and the children’s experience there would be greatly improved if the toilets were of a better standard.

I sent this document to the head teacher and the school governors, who quickly came round to my way of seeing things.

On becoming a school governor in early 2014 and joining the wellbeing committee, I discovered that school toilets had been an ongoing issue for a couple of years, but due to some resistance, the issue hadn't been resolved.

Toilet survey

I teamed up with another governor to go through a thorough checklist of the school toilets (you can download the checklist here).

The checklist provided concrete evidence of the scale of the problem and highlighted that some areas of the toilets were more in need of attention than others.

This showed it was a much less daunting problem to fix than originally envisioned. From the results of the survey, the head teacher was able to seek quotes for the different bits of work that needed to be carried out.

Campaign success

My persistent campaigning to improve the toilets has been successful – they're due to be refurbished during the October half-term. When they're finished I want to publicly recognise the school’s achievement by entering the toilets for the ERIC School Toilet Award.

Nicola’s tips for campaigning for better school toilets

  • Raise the issue with the school’s parent council, if there is one. It can then be escalated to the head teacher.

  • Contact governors by emailing the school or handing in a letter to the school office. Governors on the wellbeing committee are the best people to approach with your concerns.

  • Show the school evidence that good toilets can greatly improve children’s wellbeing and school performance by using ERIC’s information about the benefits of good toilet facilities.

  • Work with other parents to put the issue on the school’s agenda. Various people pushing from different directions will really put the pressure on.

  • Set up a Facebook group as a forum for parents to raise concerns, brainstorm ideas and give feedback.

  • Don’t worry about space or lack of it – school toilets can be improved in the space they currently occupy if a complete overhaul isn’t possible.

  • Work with the space you’ve got.

  • Be persistent!

For more information about the importance of good school toilets and resources to improve them head to the Right to Go campaign page of this website.