What is wrong with traditional school toilets?

6 years ago

Cleaning & Maintenance

Those looking after the maintenance of school washrooms, tell us it is one of the most difficult areas to clean.

As a washroom gets older and starts to degrade, it is more prone to damage, and more susceptible to harbouring bacteria. Old materials, for example Ceramic tiles, cast iron fixings, and fibreboard vanity sections were not designed or engineered with the same consideration of hygiene and maintenance.


Due to the large number of pupils at a school, the washroom faces very heavy traffic.

The DFES regulations require at least 1 toilet to 20 pupils. (Ratio 1:20)

With an average secondary school hosting 939 pupils, a total of 47 toilets are required.

An average house has 2 toilets, and the average family size is 4 persons, a ratio of 1:2.

Although this extreme ratio would not be feasible in a school, it does point up the difference in standards expected in domestic and educational environments.Washrooms are the most expensive room per m2, and, as the space is unproductive, they tend to be made as small as possible. This leads to overcrowding, making them both harder to use and maintain.

Vandalism and Cost to repair

Traditional toilets are an area which is prone to vandalism, leading to closures whilst repairs are made. Deliberately blocked drains are another issue which can be expensive and time consuming to resolve.

Replacement fixtures are not always readily available for older toilet designs due to new technology or more sustainable options.

Faucets left running and paper towels left in the sink create flooding issues and wastage of water, which is exacerbated by the lack of visibility in a standard toilet design. Teachers are often unwilling to enter into these areas due to  potential claims.

 John Peckham, Headteacher of Bramhall High School said the following - "These days my colleagues are very reluctant to step behind two closed doors because if they were here alone with a student they open themselves to allegations of - whatever."


Over the last 10 years, visibility has become a vital requirement in new school designs, proven to be key in reducing bullying, vandalism,and the other issues mentioned above.

CCTV is not appropriate for use in these areas, and the washrooms are usually behind closed doors, making them difficult for staff  to monitor, and creating a space for anti social behaviour to take place.

Return on Investment

For the majority of schools, investing into their washrooms is rarely seen as a priority. Having seen the positive effect that a well-designed washroom facility can have on the performance of the school and the pupils, it deserves more attention.

What is the solution?

take a look at our video of a successful school washroom case study.

Look out for our whitepaper on The Impact Of School Washrooms, coming soon.


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