Thanks to funding from the Your West Support Fund, the school has invested in a state-of-the-art solar pool cover.
Lisa Leyland of the parent fundraising committee explains that a pool cover has been on the school’s wish list for some time. ‘While we are fortunate to have a school pool, it’s not heated,’ explains Lisa. Consequently, tamariki can only use the pool for a few short weeks at the start of the school year.
According to Lisa, swimming in the pool is always popular with students. However, outside the height of summer, the water gets too cold for the school’s young population aged 5-11. ‘Many cannot cope with cool temperatures for long periods because of their small body mass,’ she says.
Situated in Te Atatū Peninsula, Rutherford Primary has around 350 children on the roll. And for a West Auckland school with so many beautiful beaches nearby, water safety is a priority. Using the school pool to learn about water safety is vital to the curriculum. Tamariki develop critical swimming skills and improve their confidence in the water.
And those skills are even more important given Rutherford Primary’s diverse school community. Around 40 percent of students are Māori and Pasifika. And according to national data, Māori and Pasifika are disproportionately represented in drowning statistics.
The new solar pool cover has been in place for just a few weeks but has already made a difference. Lisa says it uses the sun’s rays to heat the pool a few extra degrees. ‘The children’s swimming experience will now be much more enjoyable,' says Lisa.
Children can comfortably stay in the water for longer. And the solar cover means they get to jump in for more weeks of the year. It also makes keeping the pool clean and free from leaves much easier. ‘We have increased the time spent learning water safety skills,’ says Lisa. And as she points out, it’s an essential life skill for a nation surrounded by water.
‘The school whānau is eternally grateful for the funding,’ declares Lisa. With many families reeling from the cost-of-living crisis, fundraising for such an expensive item wasn’t an option for this small school community.
Rutherford Primary’s tamariki can now dive right in and enjoy their fantastic school pool. And having fun while learning critical water safety skills is a win-win for the school and the wider community.