the fantastic work that is going on elsewhere in our schools and in education in general.”

According to the Essity survey, 59% of primary school teachers believe that improving hygiene levels in school toilets would reduce illness rates among children and school staff. Parents also believe this would have a knock- on effect on absenteeism, along with the health of parents and siblings.

“A quarter of teachers and

children described hygiene levels in their school toilets as being either poor or very poor.”

The study also revealed that six out of ten primary school teachers rate the hygiene habits of children as poor. And they believe that this situation is having significant negative impacts on education in UK primary schools.

Around a fifth of primary school teachers are having to spend up to 30 minutes each week cleaning up children after they’ve been to the toilet, according to the report. This equates to more than a million hours of lost teaching time in UK schools over the course of an academic year.

fingers. Traumatic events like this have deterred them from attempting to use the school loo again.

But according to a large number of internet forums, many children have entirely logical reasons for shunning the school washroom. Some claim to dislike the loud noises made by flush systems and air dryers, for example. And others dislike the school toilets because they say they are messy, dirty or smelly.

The Essity survey certainly bears out the fact that school washrooms are often found wanting. A quarter of teachers and children questioned in the study described hygiene levels in their school toilets as being either poor or very poor. And a fifth of respondents claimed that no checks whatsoever are made on these facilities during the day.

It has to be said that the education authorities can do little to tackle the issue of washroom ‘ghosts’. However, they can certainly address the problems of noise, smells, mess and faulty locks – along with the all-important issue of improving hygiene.

Essity aims to begin a dialogue with schools, parents, children and local authorities on the back of its study, says the company’s UK managing director Kevin Starr. He said: “The findings indicate a worrying and growing problem regarding hygiene standards within UK primary schools.

“There’s clear evidence to suggest that by not paying enough attention to hygiene levels we risk undermining all

Essity has pledged to create educational resources and share these with educators to make it easier for them to teach children better hygiene skills. By working with other stakeholders the company will seek to identify a set of affordable solutions aimed at helping primary schools to improve hygiene levels in their toilets.

The company then aims to pilot these solutions in a number of schools to assess their impact on children’s education and well-being. Additionally, Essity will continue to donate toilet rolls to help make a positive difference in our schools. The company donated more than 60,000 toilet rolls in 2017 and so far in 2018 it has already donated around 30,000.

Kevin continued: “Schools and local authorities are trying to do their best with limited budgets and resources. Spending more money isn’t an option – and we don’t believe it’s the answer either. We aim to improve health and well-being, reduce absenteeism and increase the self-esteem and confidence of children in the UK.”

During the six-month pilot scheme Essity hopes to build a case to roll out the new measures more widely in UK primary schools across the board.

Small children – like the rest of us – deserve to be provided with washroom facilities that are accessible, clean, hygienic and pleasant to use. Once these have become the norm in primary education establishments it could be that the ‘ghosts’ of the primary school washroom will have been laid to rest once and for all. EDUCATIONAL & SCHOOL FACILITIES | 43

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