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It's in the best interests of pupils and schools to maintain clean, hygienic and pleasant toilets. Open access to high quality toilet facilities is crucial to pupils' health and well-being. Good toilets can also have a positive influence on pupils’ willingness and ability to learn, their behaviour, morale and attendance levels. 

Some of the problems associated with restricted access and poor school toilet facilities include:

  • Medical conditions such as chronic constipation, wetting and urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be caused or aggravated by the avoidance of, or limited access to, school toilets.
  • Restricted toilet access can cause significant anxiety which can have a direct ability on a child's ability to concentrate and affect their progress at school.  
  • Pupils avoiding using the toilets at school because they are dirty, smelly, lack basic provisions, are not private enough, or because they're not allowed to go to the loo when they need to.
  • Children and teenagers limiting how much they eat and drink to avoid using the school loos. Not drinking enough water during the day can cause and aggravate problems with the bladder and bowel. It can also lead to dehydration and lack of concentration. This, in turn, can result in poor academic and sporting performance.

This short film examines the impact of restricting children and teenager's access to the toilet at school: 

Best practice guidance

ERIC's School Toilet Charter outlines the standards of toilets that all schools should provide.

Improving school toilet design

Well-designed and attractive toilets demonstrate respect for pupils. With the right design, layout and choices of finishes and fixtures, school toilets can be attractive, safe, durable and low maintenance. Open, bright and attractive toilets will encourage pupils to value themselves and their facilities.

The 'Toilets in Schools' guidelines, published by the Department of Education in 2007, show how toilet 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 legislation that covers school toilets and washing facilities is the Schools Premises and Regulations (SPRs) 2012.

Sample School Toilet Policy

A written school toilet policy:

  • indicates to pupils and parents/carers that the school values and respects the welfare of its students by fulfilling their right to go when they need to;
  • shows that all school staff follow the same approach to school toilets and their access;
  • means pupils know when they can use the toilet and aren't left worrying whether they'll be told off if they ask to go during a lesson;
  • encourages schools to audit the toilets properly so they don't deteriorate over time; and
  • ensures pupils' needs are fully taken into account.

Pupils should be actively involved in creating and implementing the policy. It should be approved by pupils and governors, communicated to the whole school and reviewed each year.

Not sure how to start writing a policy? We've done the hard work and produced a template school toilet policy for you. 

Download the template school toilet policy here.

Share your experience

If you work at a school or education setting and have used some of these resources to improve the toilet facilities we'd love to here from you. Please share your experience by emailing us at [email protected].

Find out how one mum campaigned to improve her son's school toilets.