BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Education
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Hot Topics 
UK Systems 
League Tables 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
School installs unisex toilets
Most people are used to unisex toilets at home - but not at school
A secondary school is installing unisex toilets in an attempt to help prevent bullying, vandalism and smoking.

Teenage girls and boys will soon be able to mingle by the washbasins in the facilities currently being refurbished at Bramhall High School in Stockport.

The idea is being introduced by head teacher John Peckham, who believes it could catch on in other schools.

He told The Times newspaper: "We have discussed this with our students through the student council.

John Peckham
John Peckham: Trying something different

"We are trying to create a space that is safe, pleasant, and not vandalised, and we have been working with the students to do this."

According to reports, the new facilities, due to be finished in a fortnight, will consist of a row of 19 individual cubicles on one side, a row of washbasins on the other, and an open doorway at either end.

The toilets will be supervised by a member of staff on duty outside in the corridor, and four sets of single-sex toilets will still be available elsewhere in the school.

'No-go territory'

The school's new facilities have been likened to the unisex toilets which feature in the hit US legal comedy show Ally McBeal as a hotbed of office gossip.

But Mr Peckham said he had not watched the programme.

"We simply had a very grotty set of toilets that desperately needed refurbishing. We simply thought 'Let's try something different'," he told The Times.

"The problem is that toilets become a no-go territory for adults. Vandalism and bullying are easier there.

"We did not feel comfortable for a member of staff to be standing inside the toilets. We felt we would try one set that could be supervised from outside in the corridor."

He said pupils were "not fazed" by the idea, which might be "something other schools will want to do as well" if it proved successful.

Sniffer dogs

On Thursday, a statement released by the school said it regretted that news of the new toilets had broken.

"The toilets are still being refurbished. No one has any experience of using them yet," it said.

Last year, Bramhall High School made the headlines when Mr Peckham employed a security guard with sniffer dog to prevent drug use at the school.

As a result, two 15-year-old boys were found in possession of cannabis.

Mr Peckham said he reserved the right to continue with the spot checks, but the policy was not supported by Stockport's Chief Education Officer, Max Hunt, who warned that the sight of a sniffer dog might worry younger pupils.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

Unisex loos
Will they catch on in schools?
See also:

26 Apr 00 | UK
Sex and the single can
05 Nov 99 | Education
School puts spy cameras in toilets
19 Apr 99 | Education
School fights drugs with sniffer dog
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories