The words ‘Ofsted’ and ‘inspection’ often strike fear in headteachers. Not only is little notice given when an inspection is about to take place, but the results of the inspector's findings will have huge implications for the entire school.

Should a school be rated as ‘inadequate’ it may be placed into special measures, which can require drastic action to resolve the situation. However, even a drop from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ can be a huge blow for educational facilities, especially as it can deter parents from wanting to enrol their children in the school.

The findings of an Ofsted report can even be reflected the value of nearby homes, with properties located within the catchment area of schools that are rated as ‘outstanding’ being worth up to 10% more, meaning the outcome of any Ofsted report can be far-reaching for the whole community.

Of course, the primary focus is on delivering the best education for students. But while headteachers and teachers naturally focus on what happens within the classroom walls when aiming to score highly in an Ofsted report, the building itself must also be subject to close attention. This includes the school's toilet or washroom facilities.

Here is an overview of how to ensure your school passes its Ofsted inspection in terms of all things washrooms to guide headteachers and facilities managers.

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7 Warning Signs Your School May Fail An Ofsted Inspection

You might think your school toilets or washrooms are insignificant. But to an Ofsted inspector, they must be a place that provides convenience and dignity for pupils, including those with additional needs.

If your school toilets haven’t been updated in some time, then there’s no end of attributes that could cause your school to drop marks during its inspection. However, in terms of the official DfE guide on standards for school premises, here are the top 7 warning signs to look out for.

Toilets Aren’t Solely Used By Pupils

The ISS Regulation 23A requires that “suitable toilet and washing facilities are provided for the sole use of pupils”. In addition, separate toilet facilities must be provided for pupils above the age of 8, unless the toilet is in a room that can be secured from the inside and is only used by one pupil at a time.

The only exception to this rule is for any accessible toilets - these can be used by other staff in addition to specific pupils with accessibility needs. However, in terms of safeguarding, it is always preferable that students have separate toilet or washroom facilities to staff.

If in doubt, Inspired Washrooms specialises in the design and installation of disabled toilets for schools.

Inadequate Water Temperature

Children do not expect to turn on a tap and receive burns or scalds. On the other end of the scale, if the hand basin water is not warm, then it will not be as effective at killing germs and bacteria.

Washrooms that were installed some time ago may lack a good standard of tap and overall plumbing and heating. Given the importance of pupils being able to wash their hands after visiting the toilet or before eating, this is an area that’s easy to miss.

Insufficient Facilities

What is classed as insufficient facilities can vary, including everything from a lack of sanitary bins to not enough soap or paper towels. It’s therefore essential to have a facilities manager that oversees all aspects of your school washrooms so that no such issues can cause embarrassment or hygiene issues within the school. Ofsted inspectors will be particularly keen on this issue, even if it’s something that has gone unnoticed by staff or caretakers.

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No Showers For Pupils Aged 11+

For any school with pupils above the age of 11 (i.e. secondary school), it is expected that showers will be provided in changing rooms so that children can feel fresh following PE activities.

Buildings that don’t have showers, or if the showers are inadequate in terms of function or privacy, can be marked down during an Ofsted inspection.

Pupil Privacy Is Not Maintained

When pupils use toilet or washroom facilities, they should expect to have their privacy maintained. The concept of privacy can relate to a number of issues, including having locks on doors and adequate door height of cubicles.

As always, if you are unsure that your school meets all of the requirements, then it’s well worth having a qualified installer of school toilets such as ourselves come and assess your building for you, because once again, these types of issues are easy to miss as a school, but will be on your inspector’s checklist.

Accessibility Provisions Not In Place

Schools must cater to pupils with a range of needs, including those with accessibility issues. We’d highly suggest checking out our image gallery to see some of the disabled toilets we’ve installed within schools and general commercial environments to give you an idea of what your facilities should include visually.

There is a lot of thought and planning that goes into the installation of disabled toilets, as health and safety guidelines must be adhered to, taking into consideration any adaptations required by pupils with additional needs.

No Adequate Light Or Ventilation

Washrooms that lack adequate light (either natural or artificial), as well as ventilation, do not make for a pleasant and in many cases a safe experience. Having a light and bright washroom is more inviting for pupils, and ensuring there is ventilation helps maintain a pleasant atmosphere, as well as helping to prevent mould and bacteria from forming within the washroom.

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How To Pass Ofsted Inspection

Now we’ve covered some of the main issues that may prevent your school from passing an Ofsted inspection, it really comes down to putting everything in place so that no such issues ruin all of your hard work elsewhere across the school.

It’s certainly worth approaching a company such as ourselves to take a look at your current facilities for you, as we may notice potential failures that aren’t apparent. This could be anything from faulting plumbing to a lack of adequate signage - there’s no end of aspects that could result in a failure for your school.

After all, how frustrating would it be if your washrooms were what caused your school to be downgraded or fail an Ofsted inspection?

We normally suggest refurbishing school toilets within the summer holidays so that your pupils do not have to be inconvenienced, which is why it’s worth booking in with us as soon as possible. Alternatively, if your school has additional facilities, then we are more likely to be able to work around your staff and pupils.

Either way, we cannot stress enough the importance of having exemplary washrooms within your school building. Ofsted inspections aside, the health and wellbeing of your pupils comes first, and this can only happen if they have a safe and sanitary washroom facility.

School Toilet Refurbishment UK - Washroom Design & Installation Services

Has your school had negative feedback on an Ofsted report about its toilets or washrooms? Perhaps you want your school to put its best foot forward for any future inspections.

To discuss the key features for your washroom refurbishment, take a read through our blog on key features of a school washroom.

Inspired Washrooms is a leading installer of commercial washrooms in the UK. Based in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, we serve areas across the East Midlands, including Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.

However, we also design and install school washrooms further afield across the UK. So wherever you’re based, we’re here to help make sure your school toilets get full marks from Ofsted inspectors and pupils alike.

For help and advice with anything we’ve mentioned above, please get in touch on 0115 811 4242, and our friendly team will get back to you.