Bathroom breaks


Bathroom breaks

The reason we started this campaign is to highlight the issues with the rules around toilets in schools. In some schools students are restricted or even banned from using toilets during lessons. This can lead to students bleeding through if they are  on their periods, wetting themselves and harming their health by delaying going to the toilet.

This is backwards and simply shouldn’t be happening in a modern school system. Its time the law on bathroom breaks changed to ensure students in every part of the UK have access to toilets during lessons.

0 %

of girls in UK schools are impacted (1)


MSPs backing our policy

0 %

of teachers work in English schools where students have a right to use toilets during lessons (2)

The new policy

Our policy is simple, to allow students to use bathrooms during lesson times. Here is how it breaks down.

Allow students to use bathroom during lessons

The law we propose is simple, access to bathroom for students during lessons.

End the old systems of dealing with toilets in schools

Adopting this law would mean ending systems such as bathroom passes. It would be a blanket system covering all schools.

Change the system across the UK

To implement this change we need to change the law both in Westminster and in devolved institutions.

Read the full plan

Bathroom breaks makes the case for allowing students to use toilets during lessons.

Your questions answered

School policies on students using toilets vary across the UK. Nationally around 8% of teachers already work in schools where students can use the toilets during lessons as a right. There are also individual schools where we know students can use toilets when they need to such as in Cotham School which we spoke to during this research. What is clear is that this policy is not only workable but already used across the UK.

We know that underfunding has had a negative impact on both school budgets and individual members of staff. This can mean larger class sizes and less resources. However, this issue isn’t just about funding with schools of varying funding levels experiencing problems with bathroom breaks. We have seen a mix of well-funded, underfunded, private and public schools with problems. We support increased funding for teachers but we also know it wouldn't necessarily end this issue.

Restricting access to toilets can cause pupils to misbehave. It may make them more disruptive if they are unable to use the toilets or are in pain during lessons. Being unable to use toilets during lessons can also cause health issues in the long term.

There are concerns students may use toilet breaks to misbehave, vape or run away from lessons. The reasons behind students misbehaving are often complex and are not solved by preventing them from using toilets during lessons, it may even make them worse. It is why we have included in our paper the ability for teachers to speak to students separately about their behaviour rather than denying access to toilets. However, it also needs to be noted that these same problems can occur during lunch, at break times, before school or after. Stopping students from using the toilet during lessons can simply shift the issue to another time.

As mentioned in a previous question there are already plenty of schools which have already implemented this policy. There are a number of extra steps that can also be taken when trying to safeguard pupils. First we support teachers being able to check in and out students that have left the classroom to use the toilets to ensure they return. Second, we also want any government implementing this policy to survey schools which already use this policy to understand how they keep pupils safe.

Campaign supporters

Monica Lennon

Member of the Scottish Parliament

Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour and Co-operative Member of the Scottish Parliament for Central Scotland.

Collette Stevenson

Member of the Scottish Parliament

Collette is the SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament for East Kilbride.

Paul Sweeney

Member of the Scottish Parliament

Paul is the Labour and Co-operative Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Region. He was previously the MP for Glasgow North East.

Baroness Katy Clark

Member of the Scottish Parliament

Katy is the Scottish Parliament Member for the West Scotland region. She is also is a former Member of Parliament and a former Member of House of Lords.

Steering committee

Our steering committee share our broad campaign goals and work with us on the campaign. They also bring in expertise and help to advise us on the campaign.

A silhouette of children in red with the letters "ERIC" below in red and blue circles. Under this is the words "The Children's Bowel & Bladder Charity".

ERIC: the Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity

ERIC is the national charity dedicated to improving children’s bowel and bladder health. Our mission is to reduce the impact of continence problems on children and their families.

The British Toilet Association

The British Toilet Association works to promote the highest standards of hygiene and provision in all “away from home” toilet facilities across the UK. Their members include sixty four Local Authorities, Unilever, Domestos, J D Wetherspoon, Age UK, The National Trust and Cadbury World.