When planning washroom facilities for school premises, there are various best practice design guides to point you in the right direction, such as how to choose the perfect urinals for your school or college.
However, when it comes to swotting up on the rules and regulations that must be followed when installing amenities, it can be difficult to find the right information, with many people pointing out inconsistencies between varying versions of government guidelines.
Much of the confusion arises from the disbandment of the DfES (Department for Education and Skills), which was dissolved in 2007 and has since been replaced by the more succinct Department for Education. However, the DfES ‘Toilets in schools’ report still features prominently when conducting online searches, despite the directives being a decade out of date.
In 2015, the Department for Education published its refined Advice for Standards on School Premises, which supersedes the outdated instructions of the previous body.
Notably, the content is much less restrictive, with the intention of giving schools increased flexibility in how buildings are designed. The contemporary document outlines ISS Regulation 23A, which simply advises:
- Handwash facilities must be placed in close proximity to every toilet, while blocks must be properly ventilated and well lit.
- Washrooms must be easily accessible for pupils and allow for passive staff supervision, without impacting on privacy.
- Separate facilities should be provided for boys and girls over the age of eight, except for individual cubicles that can be locked from the inside and are intended for the use of one person at a time.
- For children over the age of 11, suitable changing facilities with showers should be provided for PE lessons.
- Staff toilets should be independent from those used by pupils, although disabled toilets may be accessed by both staff, pupils, volunteers and visitors.
The key regulation, however, is BS 6465-1:2006+A12009, which details the most suitable number of units for different age groups:
Disabled facilities should be located away from staircases, with doors opening outwards onto a minimum circulation space of 750mm.
Where there are four or more cubicles to a block, at least one should be enlarged to a diameter of 1,200mm, with both horizontal and vertical grab rails. Standard cubicles, by comparison, must have a minimum width of 450mm maneuvering space clear of the door.
Furthermore, it is imperative that disabled facilities are finished to the same design quality and design standards of other amenities.
School Toilet Tips
Despite the fact that the 2007 DfES report is now obsolete, it contained some salient advice that still rings true today. As such, you’d be wise to also bear the following in mind when planning school toilet facilities:
- Wash troughs are preferable to individual sinks because they’re more aesthetically pleasing, easier to clean, and have dramatically less risk of flooding.
The theory goes that pupils take pride in amenities that look nice, lowering the potential for anti-social behaviour, while the inherent robustness of troughs makes them virtually vandal-resistant.
- Temperature-limiting devices should be fitted to reduce the risk of scalding, while tamper-proof mixer taps that stop running after a litre of water should also be considered. Alternatively, infrared tsps are becoming increasingly popular.
- Locks must be easy to operate in a single action, and doors must be accessible for emergency services should people become trapped.
The overall design of school washrooms can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of pupils, so every aspect should be taken seriously. This extends to the adequate provision of drinking fountains, which are both environmentally-friendly and cost-effective.
Furthermore, the Children’s Bowel and Bladder charity, ERIC, has launched a nationwide campaign to help advise primary and secondary school staff on how to support children with medical conditions such as incontinence. More details can be found here.
Paul Thorn is Managing Director of School-Toilets.co.uk, a leading supplier of school washroom facilities.