Teachers report rise in number of three-to five-year-olds not toilet-trained

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Rising numbers of children are starting school before they are fully toilet trained, a survey of teachers suggests.


According to the poll, nearly two-thirds of primary school staff in the UK have seen an increase in the number of children wetting or soiling themselves during the school day over the past five years. This increased to 71 per cent for those working with three- to five-year-olds.

The online survey of 848 staff by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), in partnership with charity Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC), revealed the main reason given by staff for the rising number of children with continence problems was parents not toilet training them before they start school.

A foundation stage teacher and member of the senior management group, who took part in the survey, said, 'This is a major problem for us - over 45 per cent of our nursery children are not toilet trained when coming into nursery when they are three-years-old.

'We also have children who soil and wet a great deal even in reception. Our parents just have no idea when and how to toilet-train their children. We are having to put on a workshop to support them.'

ATL suggests that the introduction of the SEN Disability Act in 2011 and the Disability Discrimination Act, now the Equalities Act 2010, may also have led some schools to believe they can no longer refuse to take these children.

When asked whether their school has a written policy for dealing with childhood continence problems, just under forty per cent said their school has no written policy. A further 35 per cent stated that their school has no written policy for dealing with childhood toileting accidents.

Just over one-in-five staff said they have received information on how to deal with childhood continence problems in school from their school nurse, followed by 13 per cent who said they received information from their school in general.

However, 80 per cent of respondents stated that their job description does not specify that they should deal with continence problems, with the majority (nine out of ten) claiming that the classroom assistant has responsibility for dealing with a child who has a toileting accident.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said, ‘Having to deal with increased numbers of pupils who have not yet been toilet-trained puts extra pressure on education staff when they already have enough pressure on them.

‘Schools need to give staff clear guidance on how to deal with toileting accidents so that they know what they are allowed to do and who should be dealing with an incident. It is also important that education staff feel that have support from their school nurse or head, and that they know where to obtain guidance should they need it.’

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