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Orchard School Bristol

09 November 2021 Letter to Parents


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09 November 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

School Toilets and Sanitary Products

I am writing to let you know about the improvements we are trying to make to toilets in

We carried out a school survey last term to find out where children felt safe and less safe
at school. The overwhelming response from students of all ages was that the toilets in
school are the areas where most problems occurred.

  • Some children told us they avoid going to the toilet at all during the day as they
    don’t feel safe.
  • Some of our younger students said they only go with a friend in case there are large
    groups of older students in there.
  • Children told us that some students try to vape in the toilets.
  • Every day staff monitor the toilets to check no one is spending the whole of break
    and lunch time in there as a social place to chat together, eat their lunch, and limit
    the use of toilets for others.
  • A few students spend time in toilets in large groups and have blocked sinks, leaving
    taps on, flooding toilets.
  • In fact, since students returned to school after lockdown, we have had some very
    expensive bills to pay to repair damage to toilets.
  • When toilets are damaged, they are closed to all children until repairs have been
    made. As a result, the access to toilets can be limited for children.
  • We know that problems in toilets are only caused by a small number of children,
    but their impact affects a school of over 1000 people.

As you can imagine, this situation is unsustainable. You may know that we are a PFI school
- our site is owned and managed by a company called BAM. Any amendments we want
to make to our building have to be requested through this company. The toilets were
installed over 13 years ago and have not been renewed in this time. They don’t look
smart anymore, so some children treat them with little respect. We are saving money to
pay for a re-fit of all the toilet blocks across the site.

The longer-term plan is for the toilets to be designed as ‘open plan’, the same as they
are in almost all schools nowadays – individual toilets for use by any child with a shared
wash basin area. However, in the meantime we need to act to make sure toilets are safe
places for all students.

This week we have begun a trial to open up the doors from the corridor into the main
toilet blocks. The aim of this is to stop larger groups of children congregating there and
enable all children to be able to go to the toilet safely. The corridor door is open, but of
course, children can still go to the toilet cubicle, lock the door and go to the toilet with
full privacy. We have checked all aspects of this carefully with our site team, and I want
to assure you that children still have full privacy when going to the toilet. The urinals are
behind the door and cannot be seen from the corridor. The only part that can really be
noticed from the corridor are the basins for children to wash their hands and the handdryer.
At the same time, we have provided free packs of sanitary products in the cubicles for
students to be able to take when they need to. By keeping the door to the corridor open,
we hope the girls will manage to look after these sanitary products, take what they need,
and leave the rest for others.

We know period products are expensive. We also know that some children avoid coming
to school when they are on their period as they worry about having enough sanitary
products. At the moment, children can get sanitary products by asking at Student
Reception. We’d like girls to be able to be more independent and be able to take packs
of these products and put them in their bags whenever they need them.

The change to toilets and sanitary products is something that the students may find
different at first, but we have explained reasons why to them. I hope that this letter
explains to you our rationale as well.

I will update you before the end of this term on how the trial is progressing. If you wish
to comment on how your child is finding these changes, please email
info@orchard.tila.school . I will read all the comments and let you know next steps as
soon as I can.
Thank you for your continued support.

With best wishes

Julia Hinchliffe, Headteacher