Good afternoon folks
Yesterday, we asked the male students in our school to work together to rectify a problem in the boys toilets. The information that has gone home from children has really upset some families. I would like to take a moment to clarify what exactly happened in the hope of sharing our thinking behind this request and what that request actually was.
We’ve had some graffiti in the toilets in the last week or so, it was quite large and noticeable. We have also been fielding recent complaints from children about the general cleanliness of the toilets. Students have been leaving paper on the floor and in the urinals and toilets are being left unflushed. These are ongoing issues that we have addressed with children in the past. There was lots of dirty handprints/ fingerprints/splatters on the walls. There was some speculation about the possibility of faecal matter being on the toilet and walls in some places but this could not be determined.
What we do know is that when children don’t feel safe or comfortable to go to the school toilets they are more prone to having accidents and illnesses. We want all children in our care to feel okay about using the toilets at school.
And so, we spoke to children about their right to a safe and clean toilet space at school. We referred back to the tremendous effort put in from parents in 2016 to paint and decorate their toilets so that they could have a nicer place. We also talked about the school values of respect and responsibility to ensure that the message given was one where they too had a part to play in this, this is not just an adult responsibility. We talked about how when children graffiti or do not take responsibility in keeping things clean/hygienic they are disrespecting themselves, their peers and adults in our community.
The questioned was posed to children of “How are we going to fix this?” and the suggested solution was to meet and work as a team to rectify the problems.
Adults worked alongside children to with gloves and cleaning solutions to clean the toilet block space. Teachers did the ‘dirty work’ and ensured that they were the ones who cleaned the toilets bowls, seats and any questionable materials on the walls. Children were asked to scrub the graffiti and general handprints and grime. They were not asked to clean any questionable matter despite what they may have thought or commented on.
As a staff team, we have a great respect for your children, and we treat them in many ways as we would do our own. We would not ask them to do anything that we wouldn’t ask of our own children. If a child expressed that they were uncomfortable we allowed them to leave. No child was forced to do it but all boys were asked to come into the toilets to reflect on their current state and participate in a community effort of getting the toilets back to how they should look.
We hope that this clarification makes the situation clearer. If you have any ongoing concerns please do come and see me.