The Toilets Transformation Project
"Feedback from parents and children at the college clearly demonstrate that students are unhappy with the current toilet situation. This results in them ‘holding on’, drinking less water, being unable to focus in class because they need to go, bringing illnesses home more easily and being anxious about going to the toilet at the college.
Clearly this is about far more than just the ablution function of a toilet.
The answer is not to simply clean more often to tackle the terrible smell, mess and generally bleak experience that the school toilets present, but the answer is to help children understand how to take care of the toilet, mess less and take pride in that part of the college."
Former Vice-President - P&C Executive
What does the research say?
Research has shown that school toilets that are not clean, pleasant and safe can impact children’s short and long-term physical and mental health as well as their learning outcomes.
The impact of poor design, maintenance and sanitation can cause a range of problems for students such as:
Sub-standard toilets (with inadequate cleaning schedules) are making children feel they are not respected or valued at school.
Poor sanitation, along with restricted access, is creating health problems.
The poor condition of school toilets is deterring children from drinking sufficient water during the day (to avoid having to urinate). The associated dehydration is impacting on concentration and learning.
School toilets are being used as a site for hiding out, crying, self-harm and suicide.
Lack of privacy in school bathrooms is associated with misbehaviour.
So how can we try to fix this situation?
We need to empower the children, make it matter to them and support them in taking pride in their school toilets. Alongside this, parents must also be educated in the importance of instilling good toilet hygiene with their children and encouraging their children to maintain those same standards at school.
The project can consist of student, parent and staff collaboration, perhaps even a design competition, redecorating the toilets to make them fun, vibrant and inviting.
Our Toilet Transformation Project aims for students to work together to keep clean, friendly toilet spaces allowing them to feel comfortable and happy to go to the toilet at school.
We would put a call out for project sponsors and to parents to ask if any are interior decorators or designers who would be willing to help students create a design concept for the toilets.
We would like to work with the College to determine how best to engage with the student community. Possibly invite one student from each year/class to take part in a design committee who will just meet to share ideas on how they would like to decorate the toilets if they were given free reign. We may be able to leverage different student engagement strategies depending on the cohort and whether it’s junior or senior campus.
The type of improvements may vary from block to block. They could include repainting the toilets, adding painted fun motivational sayings and/or an image, putting target stickers into the boys toilets, putting the posters into the toilet cubicles, adding ‘feet’ stickers where boys should stand when they are peeing etc.
Who will do the work?
P&C can provide project management. Students will need to have ownership over the change and will be the main body leading the design with assistance from the College and the P&C. Students and parents will be invited to volunteer to help with the practical work of painting or fundraising with local businesses. Already a number of parents are keen to support the initiative in whichever way they can to improve the situation for their children.