Of all the rooms in a school, the washroom may seem like the least important. A necessity, yes, but as its use is functional – and fleeting – it’s rarely regarded as a priority space.
But a quality washroom can have a big impact on a student’s overall happiness and well-being at school.
A YouGov survey of 1,500 secondary pupils found that 5% never use the toilet during school time. Most managed this by avoiding drinking throughout the day, but this can lead to poor concentration and headaches – side-effects certainly not conducive to learning.
When something as simple as going to the toilet can impact education, the need for safe, functional, and well-planned washrooms is clear.
Here school washroom specialists, ONVO, share the key things to consider when updating school toilets to help ensure a successful refurb.
Things to think about
The number of toilets and sinks you require will be based on your student body (see our previous blog, ‘Toilet cubicle for schools – what are the rules?’ for more on this).
That said, a large school is likely to have multiple washrooms spread across the site – but exactly how you design the washroom, including the number of toilets and sinks, may vary depending on the location and how busy that area of the school is.
Design features such as wash fountains can be a great way to maximise handwashing capacity without dominating floor space. Ideal if you’re faced with high-traffic areas but have limited room to play with.
Hygiene and maintenance
All too often we see school washrooms with a sink out of action or cubicles that look unkempt and dirty.
To reduce the number of times you have to hide facilities behind the ‘out of order’ sign, it’s important to consider the materials you use – both in terms of durability and the ease of keeping them clean.
Smooth, wipeable surfaces are key, as is covering pipework to avoid awkward nooks and crannies where dirt and germs can accumulate.
Switch standard sinks for a wash trough and you will instantly tidy things up, tucking pipework out of sight and boosting hygiene levels.
With a move toward communal toilets and so much on the news about respecting pupils’ privacy and rights, if you’re planning a refurb, it’s essential to get things right here.
If you’re considering just dealing with the sink area and leaving the toilet cubicles untouched, think long and hard before doing so.
Cubicles need to be secure and lockable to allow students to feel safe and comfortable. Wobbly, cracked, or broken panels just won’t cut it, nor will stiff or broken locks. Invest properly here, and it could make all the difference for your students’ comfort and the success of your project.
In a bid to reduce bullying and vandalism, the government introduced the idea of open-plan washrooms in schools back in 2007. Roll forward to 2023, and many schools continue to embrace this concept.
The idea has largely been successful – but it’s not without downsides. With handwashing areas now on show to a wider audience, it’s even more necessary for them to look smart, attractive, and clean.
It also means they’re likely to take up more space. Any features you can incorporate that help to reduce the impact will be beneficial – again, space-saving wash fountains and slimline wash troughs built to your specific measurements are great for this.
Many schools have strict rules in place about using toilets during lesson time – even going so far as timing students.
Whilst reducing time away from the classroom is a priority, it’s important to make sure corners aren’t cut and hands are still properly cleaned.
Avoid queues by swapping old-fashioned sinks for a wash trough, which can accommodate more wash stations within the same space. These can also be fitted with automated taps and soap dispensers.
The added advantage of the wash trough design means that if a student is absent-minded in their rush to get back to class, there’s no danger of water wastage or flooding due to a tap left running.
Drab, dingy school washrooms are a thing of the past. There’s simply no excuse for them anymore. So if you’re planning an overhaul, aesthetics are a significant factor.
Bright, uplifting colours are a great idea – or incorporating school branding. Ensuring adequate lighting is also key to creating a bright, airy, and well-lit space.
When it comes to the finishing touches of the washroom design, why not involve students, too? For example, holding a vote on cubicle colours. The more involved they feel, the more likely they are to treat the new washrooms with respect.
Talk to the team
When it comes to a school washroom refurbishment, there are lots of things to consider, but the real key to a successful revamp is using quality products and materials.
And that’s where we come in.
At ONVO, we’re specialists in modular washroom fittings for schools. Using only the best materials – Corian and steel – we’re so confident in the quality and durability of what we offer that we provide a 10-year guarantee as standard.
What really sets us apart, though, is that we don’t just ‘tweak’ what we do for schools – our products are specifically designed and manufactured with school use in mind.
To find out more about what we do and how we could help to ensure the success of your school washroom project, why not talk to the team today?