Toilets aren’t usually the conversation topic of choice, yet over recent years school toilet cubicles have been a subject of much discussion.

With headlines bemoaning their condition and – more worryingly – their safety, schools have been left desperately trying to make improvements.

Unfortunately, not always with positive results.

Back in 2021, parents were enraged as a secondary school in Durham installed CCTV in student toilets. Whilst fitted with the best of intentions – to help reduce bullying and anti-social behaviour – the school faced a vicious backlash as students complained of a violation of privacy.

Other safety attempts have included schools banning the use toilets during lesson time, and teachers acting as security guards, monitoring pupils as they enter and leave the facilities.

Highly criticised for being ‘humiliating’ and a ‘gross invasion of privacy’, schools are faced with a difficult challenge. To reduce bullying, vandalism and truancy levels while maintaining an environment where pupils feel secure and private.

It’s a delicate balance. And one many schools are struggling to get right.

The good news is, whilst there is no single straightforward solution, there are a number of simple ways schools can improve safety without forfeiting privacy.

Let’s take a look at how.

5 steps to safer school toilets

  1. Use CCTV – with caution

CCTV can be highly effective, but it needs to be used with caution and it’s essential to consider students’ privacy and rights.

Rather than fitting cameras within the facilities, try carefully positioning them at the entrance instead. This can act as a highly effective deterrent for bad behaviour without encroaching too far on students’ privacy.

  1. Lockable door

All too often door locks are awkward, stiff or broken. Being able to easily lock the toilet door is a basic but important step toward ensuring the comfort and confidence of students using the facilities.

  1. No peepholes

Cracked, broken doors or loose-fitting cubicle walls make for a tense time when using the toilet.

Replace panels and doors to ensure every cubicle is secure and completely private, and you’ll go a long way towards taking the fear factor out of using school toilets.

  1. Clear signs

It may sound pretty basic, but no one wants to wander around looking lost, or worse still, to walk into the wrong room. So take the guesswork out of using the toilet with clear signage.

  1. Engage with students

Perhaps the best way to get students on board with any changes is to get them involved.

Communicate what you intended to do – and why – so they understand the reasoning behind any decisions. But don’t just tell them what’s happening – it’s a good idea to get them involved and seek their ideas and opinions too. After all, they’re the ones best place to say what will and won’t work.

Suggestion boxes, polls, and focused workshops are all simple ways to gain first-hand insight into what students feel is needed to improve the safety and standards of school toilets.

Time for change

There’s no denying establishing user-friendly, safe and secure toilets within a school setting, and ensuring their proper use, is a challenge. But it’s one all establishments are capable of rising to.

With many retailers offering competitively priced fittings and hardware for school toilet cubicles, specifically designed to withstand the demands of daily school life without blowing already tight budgets, there’s really no excuse.

Invest today and take the first steps towards a positive change for pupils.