From “Margaret Thatcher, milk snatcher” to “Michael Gove, toilet snatcher”

by Amanda Ramsay

First the Tories gave us “Margaret Thatcher, milk snatcher”, now a new generation of school children are to become victims of “Michael Gove, toilet snatcher”.

Children’s charity Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC) is fighting government plans to axe the requirement for a minimum of one toilet for every 20 pupils with their “Bog Standard” campaign. Cutting standards of sanitation and hygiene for children is part of the department for education’s contribution to the government’s “red tape challenge”. The consultation period on scrapping provisions in the School Premises Regulations (1999) closed in January and the changes will become law in spring.

While Michael Gove has targeted children in his Thatcherite crusade to remove statutory safeguards, teachers’ toilet facilities will remain protected under Workplace Regulations from 1992 which are the responsibility of the department for business, innovation and skills.

School toilets have a big impact on health and well-being. But many schools are failing their pupils with poorly maintained, dirty and smelly facilities.  Research carried out by ERIC and online campaigners Netmums has found a quarter of pupils in England’s schools avoid using toilets because they are so dirty.

The consequences for children of not being able to go to the toilet are severe with issues of soiling and bullying making school life a misery for many. Lobbying parliament on Tuesday, ERIC will target government ministers, MPs and Peers with a petition from angry parents demanding action.

Shadow minister for schools, Kevin Brennan MP commented,

“In any institution you can tell a lot by visiting the toilets. As a former teacher and parent I know that pupils’ toilets in schools can leave a lot to be desired, and are a big source of complaint from children. I support the aim of ‘Bog Standard’ to improve our school toilets.”

Jenny Perez, ERIC director said,

“Schools should meet the needs of their pupils in this area. Smelly, dirty toilets and a lack of privacy are unacceptable. Adults don’t have to put up with these problems – so why should children?

School toilets affect children’s physical and psychological health. Toilets which are unpleasant, or out of bounds, can cause serious, long-term health problems. Getting the School Premises Regulations right will improve health outcomes for children with continence issues.”

Supporters of the “Bog Standard” campaign can sign an online petition run by ERIC with support from Netmums at

Amanda Ramsay is a campaigner for Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC)

Tags: , , , ,

5 Responses to “From “Margaret Thatcher, milk snatcher” to “Michael Gove, toilet snatcher””

  1. Chris says:

    Don’t get me wrong, Gove’s a git…worse than that, he’s an idiot. But I cannot believe you are quoting the ERIC/Netmums survey as “research”. This seems to have been an Internet survey of the same type as the Daily Mail doing a “contact us if you think there are too many immigrants”.
    How many schools were surveyed? How many pupils? What age range? Gender? Social group? How did they arrive at a representative sampling method? What were the raw data? Hell, I don’t need to go on…you guys know very well what constitutes a decent piece of research…you’d be quick enough to point that out if such a survey had come from the government (or indeed the daily fail).

    This is as bad as Gove ringing up a few mates with kids at Eton and asking them if they thought education improved the chances of a good job.

  2. Colin says:

    Come on – this is a month premature and should have been published on 1st April.

    I’m sure we all really want to get involved in the exciting Bog Standard campaign.

  3. If you think it’s a joke, please read on. The government doesn’t want our children to have toilet rolls, handwash and now has decided to scrap the only regulation for the minimum of one toilet per 20 pupils, so children will have to cross legs or not drink, neither are very good for you.

  4. Natasha says:

    Thousands of children are forced to use disgusting school toilets or they don’t use them at all and end up with health problems. It’s a very real issue that needs to be taken seriously.

    Over 1,000 people have signed the petition ( – just look at the comments from parents, children and professionals. Proof that it affects people from all over the UK and proof that something needs to be done.

  5. Mrs M says:

    I have three children and they all tell me they won’t use the toilets at their school because they are dirty and smell bad.

    It’s worrying as a parent because it means they wont drink what I pack for them at lunchtime because they don’t want to go to the toilet. I don’t think they drink anything during the school day which I know is terrible.

Leave a Reply