A blog by Dunhams Washrooms...Bullying remains an important issue within schools and according to The Annual Bullying Survey 2018, 22% of all young people have experienced some form of bullying in the past year.
Toilets have long been a hotspot for bullying and anti-social behaviour in schools and education facilities. Research into the actual extent of bullying in school toilets is limited, but one survey conducted by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 2010 found that 40% of girls would never visit school toilets, whilst 12% of secondary school boys admitted that bad things happened in school toilets.
Washroom Design Solutions
In order to look for solutions, it is first important to understand why bullying is prevalent in school toilets. These areas are often an extremely private part of the school building and are unsupervised from teachers and staff. A lot of anti-social behaviour occurs when pupils are allowed to congregate in private toilet areas and therefore one of the biggest advancements in washroom design has been to introduce more open plan spaces. The aim is to reduce space around cubicle areas and one of the biggest advancements is to move handwashing facilities out into open spaces such as the corridor. This enables passive supervision, ultimately making students feel safer using the toilet facilities.
Advancements towards greater supervision of the washroom areas must also factor in student privacy. To support this, there has been a growing demand within secondary schools for full height, floor to ceiling toilet cubicle systems to protect student’s privacy. Urinals are now rarely factored into school washroom refurbishments as there is more of a focus on privacy. This is another way that schools are working to reduce bullying by limiting the use of closed off spaces.
As mentioned, communal hand wash areas are increasingly popular and the use of wash troughs are encouraged over individual basins. Washtroughs are not only easier to keep clean but look aesthetically more pleasing which encourages students to take better care of the facilities. Washtroughs also make it more difficult for students to flood handwashing areas.
Exactly how these developments are implemented to reduce bullying varies from school to school and in each case, there will be noticeable differences in designs. As a guide, you can download an example school washroom layout here to assist with any upcoming refurbishments.
A Case Study
Dunhams has recently been involved in a school washroom project which is characteristic of the way in which open-plan design is being used to promote anti-bullying. The layout of Ormiston Denes Academy’s new washroom includes features such as communal hand wash areas which open on to the main corridor. This makes it easier for adult supervision and reduces the risk of both bullying and vandalism. The communal area lends itself well to the use of a solid surface hand wash trough.
The easily accessible toilet cubicle layout takes the risk of bullying into careful consideration and the using Dunhams’ Altitude Cubicle System ensures the ever-increasing requirement of additional privacy features and facilities for gender-neutral pupils are not overlooked. Read more about this school washroom project here.
Encouraging Student Involvement
Studies have shown that encouraging student involvement in the design process of areas of the school such as toilets, can help to reduce vandalism and bad behaviour. Some schools give pupils the opportunity to be involved in design aspects such as choosing colours, materials and finishes for the washrooms. It can also be useful to incorporate student artwork and designs into the panelling.
All of these developments in washroom design and importantly, the approach to design are positive steps that are proving to reduce bullying in schools. Contact one of our experienced project consultants to discuss how we can assist with your next school washroom project.