Unit 1: How to ensure access to drinking water in schools

Waterschools must ensure that pupils have easy access at all times to free, fresh drinking water on school premises. In order to ensure that there is sufficient access to suitable drinking water in the school environment, there are a number of steps that can be taken when an educational establishment is setting out on its WaterSchool journey.

1. Evaluate Existing Drinking Water Resources

As a starting point, a review of water quality and accessibility in the school should be completed. This includes an evaluation of current drinking water policies, as well as the current condition of the water supply and water dispensers (water fountains, taps, access to drinking bottles in class, etc). Resource idea - We have produced an evaluation template which can be found in the resources section of this website.

2. Develop your Water School plan

Using the results of your evaluation, start to think about solutions for any issues that came up in stage 1. The plan should be developed using a whole school approach in order to ensure that all voices within the school are heard. You may wish to set up a ‘Water School Council’ that comprises teaching staff, children, lunchtime assistants, parents and senior management. The aims of the plan are to:

  • Identify current strengths, as well as opportunities for the improvement in providing access to and consumption of drinking water.
  • Develop a wish list of actions to address policy and practical concerns relating to water supply and consumption.
  • Rank the list in order to prioritise the top concerns first.

We have produced a Water School planning template which can be found in the resources section of this website, to help you with this part of your planning process.

3. Approve your Water School plan

Once the water school plan has been agreed upon, it is time to start approving the plan. Considerations for this stage include:

  • Speak to stakeholders: Meet with senior management / budget holders to discuss what is practical and available. Also talk to school facilities operators and school maintenance staff in order to discuss the best implementation options for the plan.
  • Funding: The school may have money available from its budget to pay for what is required in your water plan. Other funding options may include speaking to the PTA, running fundraising events, applying for any relevant funding grants, or linking with local businesses or water utility companies.
  • Select a water delivery method: Review the available budget and logistical possibilities in order to decide what will work best in your school. Remember that schools are discouraged from using disposable water bottles as a solution because this it is not a sustainable practice and may end up being more expensive in the long-term than more permanent solutions such as taps or water fountains.

4. Implement the plan

Once everything has been approved and the funding is in place, it is time to implement your plan:

  • Ordering: If any new equipment is required, discuss with the relevant person in the school what is needed, from where and by when.
  • Delivery and installation: At this stage, someone will be required to liaise with delivery companies, contractors, school maintenance staff to arrange the installation of any hardware.
  • Identify personnel needs and training: Identify whether additional staff time or training is necessary to implement the proposed solutions. Develop water drinking incentives. One of the most important parts of implementing a Water School plan is to ensure that the response from students will mirror the effort that went into making the water available. It is important to develop strategies for communicating what changes are happening within the school and why students should care.

These strategies will be investigated further in this module in unit 3: Incentives to drink water.

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