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School Toilets not a focus of Healthy Schools Initiative in Britain
Detail: Child health is a major issue for determining school policies. However the new Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) annual report on the state of Britain's schools does not mention one important aspect of school life that seriously affects most children's emotional and physical wellbeing - the condition of the toilets. School toilets are often dirty and smelly, a haven for bullies and a no-go area for teachers. The government's Healthy Schools Initiative also does not include improvement of toilets. Yet for many children around Britain, the state of school toilets is just as important as the number of nutrients in their school dinner or the amount of PE they get. Moreover, inadequate toilets are often equated with fear of being bullied. Colin Noble, the national coordinator for the Healthy Schools Programme, admits that school toilets have been a weak link in the government's chain of initiatives attempting to make school life more wholesome.

Bog Standard, a campaign for the improvement of school toilets run by the charity Eric (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) receives hundreds of emails and phone calls from distressed parents and students each year. Sometimes these concern pupils in schools where students are not allowed to go to the toilet during lessons. It is also common for children to dislike their school toilets so much that they don't go to them at all. As schools move towards an extended day, the state of their toilets becomes increasingly important.

Bog Standard has instituted an award for acceptable school toilets. There are two levels for this award, Pioneer and Full, covering issues such as the number of toilets and washbasins per pupil, their condition, their location and ways of preventing them becoming the lair of smokers and bullies. Nickie Brander at Bog Standard talks about toilets being important to school children and about giving learners a say in what improvements they want. According to her, children keenly feel that inadequate toilets and draconian rules about when toilets can be used are a reflection of the poor light in which children themselves are held. Improved toilets mean improved morale for every pupil. Brander emphasized that school toilets should be in both Ofsted's remit and outlined in the Healthy Schools Initiative in order to give children a voice.

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Source: A report by Julian Gibbs, Tuesday November 21, 2006, The Guardian
Date: November 22 2006