What is the mission of ?

To ensure that lower decile primary schools aren’t prevented from teaching water safety and swimming skills by the lack of access to a swimming pool.


Why do fewer schools have pools today?

A number of schools are closing their pools as the cost of upgrading old pools to meet the current regulatory requirements for water quality is prohibitive, and schools are being forced to trim non-essential costs due to increasing budgetary pressure. Also, new schools are rarely built with pools.


Why don’t schools use local municipal pools?

Some can and do. However, the financial cost and loss of teaching time can be prohibitive, especially when kids have to be transported to and from the pool. Even when the local pool is close, the ability of schools to use the pool may be constrained by contractual arrangements between the council and other organisations such as swim schools.


How cost effective is using a portable pool?

Very cost effective. Our estimate is that the cost to a school of 250 pupils is about 30c to 40c per pupil lesson. This cost  varies depending on the number of pupils (it will higher for smaller schools), average number of lessons per week, time of year and how well the school manages the water temperature in the pool.


The main cost for the school is the electricity to run the heat pump. We are working with schools to manage this cost, such as using an insulated pool cover and not overheating the water.


If the costs incurred by are included (depreciating the pool over an average of 10 years and allowing 10% of the capital cost per year for maintenance and administration), the total cost per lesson is about 60c to 70c.


The cost effectiveness of portable pools results from the low capital cost compared to in-ground pools, the year round availability and the ability for each pool to service 4 schools.


By comparison, the experience of Sylvia Park School was that the cost to the school per lesson per pupil was about $11 when they were bussed to a local pool several kilometres away.


Is a portable pool the right solution for eve?


Usually but not always. Schools should consider a mix of approaches, including using local community pools.


What does a unit cost?


Between NZ$55,000 and $60,000 (excluding GST), depending on the configuration. A setup includes:-

  • Pool frame, liner, manifold, underlay, cover and 2 flexible hoses to connect the manifold to the filtration system on the trailer. The pool when erected is 9.5m long, 5.2m wide and 1.275m deep, with a water depth of 1m.

  • Double marquee (13.7m long by 6m wide by 3m high)

  • 1.8m high safety fence and gate for each end of the marquee, including safety signage.

  • Tandem axle trailer, with water pump, double filter, chlorine dispenser, heat pump, piping, electrical panel, video security camera and wheel lock.

  • Cable (up to 30m) to connect the electrical supply to the electrical board on the trailer.

  • Access platform and steps for one end of the pool.

  • Swim aids (30 buoyancy vests branded PoolsiNSchoolZ, 10 kickboards and 10 noodles).

  • Water testing kit.

  • Installation and dismantling manual (1 copy)

  • Operations and maintenance manual  (1 copy)


Not included are:

  • Upgrade to a 32 amp power supply if not already installed.
  • Suitable RCD (Residual Current Device) if not already installed.
  • Electricity
  • Chemicals
  • Water (although sometimes we can arrange for the initial fill to be free of charge)
  • Monthly microbiological water testing.
  • Insurance while the pool is at the school (schools in the Ministry of Education insurance scheme are automatically covered on notification of installation)


We are working to find ways to reduce the costs that the schools incur.


How many portable pools are needed to achieve your mission?

We aren’t sure because the statistics on which schools have pools or practical access to community pools aren’t readily available, but at least 100. The number required will increase as more schools close pools.


How is PoolsiNschoolZ being funded?

The setup costs and the first 6 pools were funded by 2 of our trustees. We have commissioned another 8 pools, mainly funded by community organisations, and are working on a 15th pool.


Why doesn’t the government provide more funding for school pools?

There are many competing priorities for government funding in these tough economic times, not the least being the rebuilding of Christchurch.


This doesn’t preclude more government investment, supplemented by community fund raising. A setup costs much less than a traditional pool, and the portability and year round availability means that schools can group together to share the cost.


Can a school buy its own setup?

Yes, we can arrange this, although we encourage schools to group together and share the cost of a pool.


What is the life of a pool setup?

It’s too early to say, and various components will have different life spans, but we are budgeting on an average of 8 years. Some components such as the trailer should last longer, but others may have shorter lives. Even minute traces of chlorine, unavoidable in this environment, can be very corrosive to metalwork.


One of our objectives is to maximise the lifespan by improving the setup over time and ensuring that proper maintenance is undertaken. As an example, all new pools have electroplated marquee frames rather than powder coated, and we are progressively hot dip galvanising the original setups.


Are demographic changes a factor in the drowning rate?

Yes. An increasing percentage of Kiwi kids come from backgrounds where, usually for good reasons, water safety and learning to swim aren’t part of the culture. As an example, despite the idyllic image of Polynesian kids swimming in lagoons, the reality is that a significant percentage of them can’t swim.


Why is learning to swim only one element of water safety?

Most people who drown can swim, but get into situations beyond their ability to cope. A few simple messages about water safety, learned at an early age, can make all the difference.


What have the outcomes been so far?

Stunning! The concept was trialled at 3 primary schools in the Auckland area (Red Hill at Papakura, Pt England, and Sylvia Park) and was an instant success. Feedback over the last 2 years has been overwhelmingly positive..


A good example of an unexpected positive outcome was that the percentage of kids participating was higher than expected. Experience and the literature suggest that many kids, particularly girls around the age of 10 to 12, are very conscious of their body shape, and often avoid swimming by conveniently forgetting their swimming costumes and towels. However, it appears that they are much less self-conscious when swimming in a pool at the school than when swimming at one off-site.


What are the criteria for primary schools joining the programme?

Given that for some time the demand for pools will exceed the number available, we will have to make some difficult decisions. Our criteria are:

  • A demonstrated commitment to teaching water safety. We aren’t interested in providing pools for kids to splash about in.
  • Decile level. While many higher decile schools don’t have pools, our primary mission is to assist lower decile schools.
  • Working cooperatively with other schools. An application from a consortium of say 4 schools, with a clear plan to work together, is more likely to be approved than one from a lone school.
  • School roll. The reality is that it doesn’t make sense to put scarce pools into very small schools. However, given that the units can be erected and dismantled very quickly, we envisage that as more pools become available we can look at putting them into smaller schools for say half a term a year.
  • A suitable site (see below).


These criteria are indicative and we are happy to talk to any school.

Do you require schools to participate in any specific water safety programmes?

No, we don’t dictate how the school teaches water safety. We have confidence that each school will do so in an appropriate and common sense way that suites its circumstances.


We do suggest that a school partners with a recognised provider of water safety education resources, such as Water Safety New Zealand (Sealord Swim For Life programme) or WaterSafe Auckland. We can arrange an introduction.


What are the site requirements for installing a portable pool at a school?

The main requirements are:

  • A reasonably level site on either asphalt or concrete. We don't install pools on grass, having tried this and found that it becomes very boggy..
  • A 32 amp power plug, protected by a residual current device, located within 25 metres of where the trailer will be located.
  • A high pressure water supply, such as a fire hydrant, within 50 metres of the pool location.


Our site specification document elaborates on these requirements.


What is the role of volunteers?

Volunteers are the heart of. Our goal of minimising administration and overhead costs requires that be a volunteer and community based organisation. Volunteer roles include:


Area Coordinators: Managing a defined territory, including liaising with schools and local community groups, promoting PoolsiNSchoolZ to potential donors and sponsors, ensuring local media coverage, and coordinating other volunteers.


Specialist volunteers: There are many areas where specialist expertise is invaluable, such as:

  • Building and managing our web site.
  • Writing and publishing newsletters.
  • Advising on communications and media coverage.
  • Working with schools to develop educational resources that utilise the pool (these aren’t directly related to water safety, an example being creating graphs from the daily water tests).
  • Maintaining our school GIS (Geographical Information System) database.
  • Preparing funding applications.
  • Writing and maintaining our operations manuals.
  • Refining the design of the pool setup, to enhance safety (always the number 1 goal), improve operability, reduce cost and extend the life span.
  • Lobbying at the national level.
  • Administration and accounting.


Community volunteers:

  • Raising funds via local initiatives.
  • Helping with the installation and dismantling of pools.
  • Building platforms.
  • Assisting local schools as required.
  • Lobbying local politicians


If you can help , please email us at [email protected].


What role can schools play?

We expect that schools will play a major role in developing and improving . Our schools are full talented and committed people, who are already starting to make valuable suggestions. Our challenge will be to channel and share these contributions.


The broader school community will play a vital role, above all by providing positive reinforcement, praising the kids for their achievements. Other ways to be involved are:

  • Helping with installation and dismantling of the units.
  • Assisting the teachers during lessons (although the number of volunteers needs to be managed).
  • Ensuring that the units aren’t vandalised.
  • Fundraising.


can provide advice on ways to encourage community participation.


How did arise?

The problem of the decreasing number of schools with  pools, and the cost of taking kids to community pools, was discussed at the 2009 annual meeting of WaterSafe Auckland Inc. Dr Ian Calhaem, a member of the WaterSafe advisory board, thought laterally about the problem, and posed a simple question: “If it is impractical to take the kids to a pool, why not take a pool to the kids?”.


Ian called in favours from his extensive contacts, and cobbled together a pilot pool that was installed at Red Hill Primary School (Papakura) in term 1 of 2010, with help from WaterSafe Auckland. An improved pilot was trialed at Pt England Primary School in term 4 of 2010 and then at Sylvia Park Primary School in the first term of 2011.


In February 2011, Ian and his friend David Brown, decided to establish a charitable trust to promote the concept. They set the ambitious target of installing 6 new pools by 2 May 2011, the start of term 2, then 11 weeks away. 4 pools were installed in Auckland, 1 in Whangarei and 1 in the Karikari Peninsula near the top of the North Island.


Are there similar organisations overseas?

The only one that we are aware of is Total Swimming Pools 4 SchoolsTM , which was launched  in the UK in May 2009 by Steve Parry, an Olympic swimmer who won a bronze medal at Athens.


The reasons cited for establishing Pools 4 Schools are similar to, including school pools being closed and the concern that too many kids aren’t learning to swim.


Pools 4 Schools' primary focus is to help children to reach the UK National Curriculum requirement of swimming 25 metres unaided.  In July 2010 Pools 4 Schools announced that it had reached the milestone of teaching the 10,000th child to swim.


Pools 4 Schools is sponsored by British Gas, the principal sponsor of the British swim team, and supported by the Department of Children Schools and Families.


To learn more about Total Swimming Pools 4 SchoolsTM , ,  visit , visit the Total Swimming Ltd  or British Gas websites.