Schools: Sanitation

Children, Schools and Families written question – answered on 15th July 2008.

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Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families)

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

(1) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the provision of toilets in English schools; and if he will make a statement;

(2) how many schools in England only have outside toilets; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what survey records his Department holds on the provision of school toilets; and if he will make a statement;

(4) if he will review the adequacy of the standard of toilets in English schools; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

Schools should put as much effort into designing and managing toilets as they do in building and managing other facilities. They should be clean, safe, well equipped and accessible. Children and young people themselves cite the state of school toilets as a top priority. It is unacceptable that they are put off using toilets at schools because they are badly designed, vandalised dirty or hang-outs for bullies. We want pupils to be healthy by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and they cannot do that without feeling safe to use the toilets.

That is why last year for the first time we laid down clear guidance in the form of a specification for design so that schools can use the record amounts of investment in school buildings and facilities to provide the highest quality pupils' toilets. The guidance sets out specific design features to combat antisocial behaviour; suggests how floor space can be designed effectively and encourages local education authorities and schools to involve pupils in the design and management of the facilities to foster a sense of pride and ownership.

The required number of toilets in schools in England is set out in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999. Responsibility for applying the requirements of these regulations rests with local education authorities.

Schools and local education authorities should comply with the requirements of the School Premises Regulations and the HSE Workplace Regulations regarding hygiene and cleanliness then school toilet accommodation will be adequate. But these are minimum requirements and we want more than that which is why we issued the guidance last year.

In the first term of Government, the last 450 primary schools with outside toilets had them replaced. We are not aware of any remaining schools in England which only have access to outside toilets.

We do not hold survey records on the provision of school toilets but we are confident that local education authorities will have assessed their toilet accommodation as part of asset management planning and together with the schools will have remedied most inadequacies by now.

The bulk of schools capital is allocated by formula to authorities and schools so that they can address their local asset management planning priorities, including the upgrading of toilet and washroom facilities. Research on the use of devolved formula capital shows that around a fifth of schools have improved toilets each year from 2003-04 to 2006-07.

Central Government capital support for investment in schools has increased from under £700 million in 1996-97 to £6.7 billion in 2008-09 and will rise further to £8.0 billion by 2010-11. Progress is being made year-by-year in improving the quality of the school building stock. Given the high levels of funding, authorities have the opportunity to upgrade toilets.

At present we are reviewing the School Premises Regulations and will consult on them in due course.

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