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Six in ten pupils in Scotland avoid using school toilets

Published:5 September 2013
Fieldwork:September - November 2012
Keywords:Children, Health, Schools, Scotland, Toilets, Young people
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Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People launched Flushed with Success: Setting the Standard for Scotland’s School Toilets. The campaign calls on the Scottish Government to introduce new guidance on school toilets to address the quality of the facilities provided in schools.

Our survey of 2,154 S1-S6 pupils from schools across Scotland to help inform the Commissioner’s campaign, found that:

  • 56% of secondary school pupils in Scotland avoid using school toilets – including one in ten who ‘never’ use them and 46% who report avoiding using them unless they ‘really have to’
  • 33% rate standards of cleanliness as poor or very poor
  • one quarter (24%) report supplies of toilet paper being inadequate, while 37% complain of a lack of soap, and 30% report a lack of working locks on cubicles
  • although around half of pupils who use school toilets report always or usually feeling safe in them, 16% say they rarely or never feel safe in them, and a similar proportion (15%) that they only sometimes feel safe 

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, said:

“Providing better school toilets as standard across Scotland is a matter of respect and dignity for children and young people”.
While acknowledging that a number of schools have great toilets for pupils and have gone above and beyond what’s required in legal terms, he reported having come across many instances where the standard of school toilets is poor and children regularly complain about the facilities.

“Current legislation is nearly 50 years old and doesn’t demand that inspectors look at school toilets. There is no process to ensure compliance with even basic standards and no-one systematically challenges the standards of school toilets when they do not come up to scratch”.
Download the summary report here (PDF)

Download the data tables here (PDF)
Download the slides here (PDF)

Technical details

Results are based on a sample of 2,154 S1-S6 pupils from schools across Scotland, who completed paper questionnaires in mixed ability classes. Fieldwork dates: Sept-Nov 2012. Data are weighted to ensure findings are representative of the Scottish secondary school population.

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Kate Sewel
Kate Sewel

Senior Reseach Executive