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Schools re-opening post-Covid and gender-neutral toilets

(67 Posts)
xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 14:25:22

Wonder if others are finding the same thing? My ds started back at school yesterday, and because of the year 'bubbles' at secondary, each year is confined to its own bit of the school and only allowed to use the toilets in that part. He is in Year 10, which has around 200 kids in the year, and the only toilets allocated to their year, unbelievably, are the boys' toilets on one floor. So these have now become de facto mixed-sex toilets for all 200 children. angry

There are two cubicles only. There was a urinal, as it was previously the boys' toilets, which is closed off, with a sign up not to use it. The cubicles have floor to ceiling doors, and there is one trough as a sink outside the two cubicles. The outside door onto the corridor has been taken off its hinges so that, in theory, the sink area is sort of visible to those passing.

This seems bizarre and I think illegal? 2 toilets for 200 children, who are only allowed to use the toilet in the quite short breaks, does not seem sufficient. In addition, I thought that over the age of 8, boys and girls were required by law to have separate toilets?

The school may not have had any choice on this, as it may be that government guidelines specified they needed to divide the school up like this - can anyone else confirm?

Or it may be that the school are doing this deliberately, and using the Covid changes to sneak this change past the parents and pupils? The school has been Stonewalled previously, and converted one toilet block to gender neutral last year (previously a boys' toilet). This met with massive opposition from parents and from pupils, who hated using the mixed loos, and so the school rowed back from plans to convert all the toilets to mixed-sex.

I'm wondering how much this school, and other schools, are using Covid restrictions as an excuse to introduce mixed-sex toilets throughout the school? Then once the pandemic is out of the way, mixed-sex toilets will have been normalised, and there will be no way to return to the former single-sex norm.

Am I being paranoid? And is there anything I can do about it? My ds hates using the toilets now, as aside from the long queues, groups of girls stand around doing their hair/make-up in front of the mirrors throughout the breaks, and he really doesn't feel comfortable going for a wee/poo with them watching him go in/listening outside! I imagine plenty of girls feel equally uncomfortable with the arrangement - I would certainly have hated it as a teen.

Even from a Covid point of view, surely forcing 200 kids to share 200 toilets is not going to give them enough space to wash their hands etc. If any child gets coronavirus, one imagines it will spread very quickly and easily with this kind of cramped toilet and hand-washing facilities.


OP’s posts: |
DidoLamenting Sat 05-Sep-20 14:44:54

He is in Year 10

How old is that? Will posters never realise not everyone is familiar with the English school system. "He is [insert age]" is shorter to type as well.

If the cubicles are fully enclosed floor to ceiling then that is legally ok for boys and girls to use. Not knowing what "year 10" is I don't know if the cubicles need to have sanitary bins.

Having said all that 2 toilets per 200 pupils doesn't seem nearly enough.

justchecking1 Sat 05-Sep-20 14:47:21

It's age 14-15

Skyliner001 Sat 05-Sep-20 14:47:39

I believe year 10 is 14/15

SomeHalfHumanCreatureThing Sat 05-Sep-20 14:48:06

Is it so hard to work out that year 10 is the 10th year of school hmm

OP, I'd speak to the form tutor or hear of year to clarify, and see if they have any plans to change this. It's not sustainable going forward, just based on numbers.

Cubicles should be floor to ceiling it mixed sex, but I thought they had to have a sink in the cubicle, sure someone will post the link about it shortly

scotsheather Sat 05-Sep-20 14:48:42

Pretty sure over age 8 the law states single sex toilets in school so unless its a government directive due to Covid its probably illegal. Regardless it will definitely be uncomfortable for many of both sexes as he has found.

xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 14:52:08

Thanks, everyone apart from DidoLamenting, who is apparently unaware that this is a British site, or that Google exists to answer basic questions. hmm

OP’s posts: |
xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 14:54:00

Forgot to add that one of the two cubicles is apparently not working properly, and has a sign up saying all toilet paper must be put in the bin rather than down the toilet!

Glad it's not only me who thinks 2 toilets for 200 teenagers is not sufficient.

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fishywaters Sat 05-Sep-20 14:57:55

I agree it is unacceptable and particularly unfair on girls who have their periods. And some will have strong periods even at an early age. The only thing I would say is that if they really only have 2 functioning toilets for year 10 then it is better that both girls and boys can use them as it actually means more toilets for the girls. Is there an outdoor area where boys could in theory pee? In private.

fishywaters Sat 05-Sep-20 14:59:32

I mean the British government basically told people travelling from safe countries through France to pee in the French countryside rather than in service stations so I don’t see why schools who have outdoor facilities can’t.

xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 15:00:38

How could boys pee outside in private??! In school grounds?! shock

No. I certainly hope not!

Did I misunderstand what you meant there?

OP’s posts: |
xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 15:01:50

They have a small play area outside allocated to each year, but I don't think either boys or girls would welcome the boys pissing in it! grin

OP’s posts: |
bellinisurge Sat 05-Sep-20 15:02:54

My dd didn't go to the loo at school yesterday- she hates public loos so I just assumed it was that. I will ask her and play polite merry hell with the school if it is this way.

fishywaters Sat 05-Sep-20 15:03:24

Well if there is no other option pee in eg a wooded area. You have not said where your school is. Alternative is to get onto the PTA to fund some portaloos. Really government should be giving schools funding for this kind of thing but we all know how long that would take.

CasuallyMasculine Sat 05-Sep-20 15:05:36

Not knowing what "year 10" is I don't know if the cubicles need to have sanitary bins.

If only there was some way of finding out this sort of thing, where you type in some words into a kind of search engine thing and you get a list of possible answers?

xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 15:08:22

Thanks for the suggestion, fishywaters.

I think the school also need to look at fairer allocations between years. I'm sure the ratio previously wasn't 1 toilet/100 children (there are more than 12 or so cubicles in the whole school), so I suspect some years have lucked out and got access to big toilet blocks, whereas Year 10 has got access to only two cubicles.

More toilets would be a partial solution.

OP’s posts: |
xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 15:09:09

Their play area is just a patch of concrete, so no wooded areas, btw.

OP’s posts: |
Whatwouldscullydo Sat 05-Sep-20 15:11:12

That's not enough toilets regardless of the set up.

And must be illegal due to breaching multiple regulations. Not just with the new mixed sex set up but also sheer numbers if people Vs toilets not to mention exclusionary of kids who don't so much have disabilities but perhaps arent able to wait as long as it takes for 198 kids to use the toilet before them.

An absolute impossibility for girls to deal effectively with periods to.

xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 15:12:25

Whatwouldscullydo, that's what I thought too.

OP’s posts: |
Whatwouldscullydo Sat 05-Sep-20 15:20:24

It does sound like they have jumped at the chance to force mixed sex toilets on the kids and blame covid I would be suspicious like you !!

On the plus side they did "convert " the boys once again which will be taken more seriously when parents complain their sons are being forced to wait or piss in bushes because they took away the urinal.

If they cant safely and legally operate they shouldn't have re opened.

Justajot Sat 05-Sep-20 15:25:10

Floor to ceiling doors make a cubicle a "room".

You need to look at what is statutory vs guidance.

Sittin Sat 05-Sep-20 15:35:08

Dido - the op is asking a very specific question relating to English law re toilet provision in schools. Why would she need to explain the age of the kids to people in other countries- who will probably have no idea of the answer anyway, and little to contribute? 🙄

Windyone Sat 05-Sep-20 15:39:05

This may be a British site but Not everywhere in Britain uses the same school system. So “year 10” means nothing in Scotland.

xxyzz Sat 05-Sep-20 15:56:35

Thanks, Justajot.

I didn't know that Scotland used different years, Windyone, but it's not necessary to know exactly what age my ds is, as I make it clear throughout this is referring to a secondary school and applies to all years. So all children aged 11-18 are affected, and as the relevant law afaik applies to children over the age of 8, it really doesn't matter what age children in Year 10 are precisely!

OP’s posts: |
fishywaters Sat 05-Sep-20 15:57:08

It seems a ratio of 1:20 toilet to student is the guidance but what I do not know is if Covid trumps that sort of guidance legally speaking. The thing is if the school cannot open in a legal way because of toilets and would have to shut would they be entitled to government funding or not. So be careful what you campaign for

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