Washrooms That Scrub-up Well Provide A Better Learning Experience For Students
It might seem tenuous to some, but there is an irrefutable link between washroom hygiene and a student’s learning. As adults, we like to think of ourselves as more discerning than children and less-accepting of poor hygiene standards in public environments such as washrooms, changing areas or swimming pools - but it’s not really the case.
For instance, studies have shown children in primary and secondary schools are more likely to withhold going to the toilet or washing if they consider onsite facilities to be unkempt, dirty or intimidating. In such circumstances, youngsters are likely to wait until they reach home before carrying out aforementioned ablutions, which can lead to an uncomfortable few hours in class and valuable learning time being lost due to the child being distracted by a sense of unease. Children who abstain from using the school washroom also risk spreading germs, which in a crowded environment, could lead to the spread of an infection or virus and result in large-scale absenteeism.
Bullying represents a more sinister cause of classroom absence, with children feeling too frightened to attend school let alone absorb the learning process taking place within. The latest study by the Children’s Society revealed English school children were among the unhappiest in the world due to instances of bullying. As part of the charity’s report, it carried out an international survey which compared children’s happiness in 15 countries. It showed children in England were unhappier with their education experience than their peers in 11 other countries due to an estimated half a million 10-and 12-year-olds being physically bullied in school.
For too long, school toilets have provided a convenient environment for vandals, bullies and anti-social behaviour to thrive. In older buildings, washrooms are often out of sight of staff, and if facilities in these areas are found in a poor state of repair, students are less likely to treat them with respect, which leads to more vandalism; more bullying.
In an attempt to eliminate such errant behaviour, schools have introduced unisex toilets and washrooms. To some, it might seem an extreme measure, but it appears to be working. Why unisex toilets? Children as they mature become more self-conscious, particularly about their appearance. Therefore, by creating toilet areas shared by both genders, it was hoped the temptation to linger and cause mischief would be stifled - and so it’s proved.
As far-fetched as it may seem, then, the quality of washroom really can have an effect on the learning environment. It’s up to us all now to educate our schools about the benefits of providing high-quality sanitary areas for our children.