What is the real impact of dilapidated and ageing school toilets on pupil wellbeing? Purdie Proudman, Channel Marketing Manager at Geberit, explains why its time to view the school bathroom as much more than just a purely functional space.

Causing anxiety
A recent YouGov poll (March 2021) carried out by Geberit found that an alarming number of children are experiencing anxiety about using school toilets.
Our poll of 1,000 parents across the UK revealed that almost half (46%) reported that their children have experienced some form of anxiety about using toilet facilities in school. Meanwhile a third of parents also had concerns about standards of hygiene at their child’s school.
The most common sources of anxiety among children were general standards of hygiene in the bathroom space (19%), followed by lack of privacy (16%). Parents also reported children’s concerns regarding touchpoints and surfaces in school bathrooms, such as taps, handles and flushes (14%) as well as a general anxiety about using toilets outside the home (14%).

School buildings
Meanwhile, our own snap survey of 100 schools found that school bathrooms were not at the top of the list of planning refurbishments for the majority of schools, with external school grounds (41%) the most popular project and only 16% of schools surveyed intending to refurbish toilets within the next 12 months. This comes after the announcement last summer of the Government’s £1bn school rebuilding programme, as well as £560 million for refurbishing existing school buildings.
Schools, naturally, have so much to consider when it comes to building projects, but it does seem that the impact of the bathroom space on pupils may be underestimated and that the humble school bathroom may be getting overlooked.

Wellbeing link
Innovations like touchless products can help minimise those many touchpoints in the busy, high-footfall spaces – taps and flushes for instance. Towards the end of 2019 we were already seeing the growth of such products, thanks to their obvious hygienic benefits.  Unsurprisingly, this is expected to continue and we predict strong growth in products like our Twyford Sola Infra-red taps range, which can help maximise hygiene in the school washroom by making the experience as touchless as possible.
It’s not just innovative technology that can help put hygiene front-of-mind. Twyford’s Sola rimless ceramic toilet ranges incorporate a rimless design which crucially eliminates tricky corners and hard-to-reach areas around the pan. Likewise, Twyford’s TurboFlush technology means that the flushing system clears away residue effectively so regular maintenance and cleaning is made simpler.

Of course, it’s not solely about product innovations. Good design, too, can do much to help change our view of the space. Wall-hung ceramic furniture, for instance, allows pipework and cisterns to be neatly concealed behind the wall, lifting the toilet from the footprint of the floor so, once again, making cleaning and maintenance easier. Just as importantly, however, this option opens up the space and creates a clutter-free, more streamlined design which really help to reinforce the perception of a clean space.
Significance of the space

School toilets can have a huge role to play in how pupils view their school. It’s time we change the perception of the bathroom space. The significance of the washroom space in schools is undoubtedly felt by many pupils – and perhaps there has never been a more important time to offer pupils a space that they feel is safe, hygienic, private and comfortable.
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