Best Practice

Hand-washing and hygiene: Improving primary school toilets

Toilet areas in schools can sometimes be neglected, resulting in poor hand hygiene and pupils reluctant to use the spaces. Dr Catherine Stones has been looking into how we can change this using some very simple ideas


For any headteacher, the toilet space is unlikely to be a priority – it is a functional space that children only briefly albeit frequently use. Given all the pressures on learning, teaching and assessment, it is easy to neglect these spaces.

As a university researcher, I have been interested in these toilets and wash areas for many years and, in particular, how simple and cheap design changes can improve children’s satisfaction with toilets and improve hand-washing rates.

I have also spent a lot of time in primary school toilets themselves! And talking to children and teachers about them. At best the primary school toilets I have seen are clean with basic “wash your hands” instructions and signage.

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