St. Mary’s Primary School, Oxted: Splash For Cash – Save our Pool
St. Mary’s Primary School, Oxted has had a swimming pool in its grounds for well over 40 years, enabling many children over the years to learn to swim, a skill that is vital and part of the National Curriculum, and allowing the older pupils to enjoy the excitement of competing in swimming galas.
The pool now however has reached the end of its natural life – it needs a new liner, new pump, new filters and new drains and there are currently no changing rooms or showers suitable for use by swimmers. The cost of fitting all of these however is not justifiable for an uncovered outdoor heated pool which has a negative environmental impact and that is only used in the summer term by the school pupils.
With the increasing size of the school only using the pool in the summer term means it is a struggle to give all the junior children a meaningful number of swimming lessons.
Staff, children and parents have all indicated that they would like to keep the pool so a plan has evolved.
The plan involves covering the pool with a glass cover, replacing the liner and drains, adding an automated safety cover which will help heat retention, build cabin changing rooms., refreshing the paving slabs round the pool, rebuilding the walls and steps, reshaping the middle entrance to the school to give independent access for the community and creating a decking/waiting area for parents.
Investing in the pool means that all the necessary maintenance could be carried out along with extending provision and opening up the pool for community use – running the pool all year round means that the school wouldn’t need to use it all the time. Allowing a wider use would support the national issue of large numbers of children who haven’t learnt to swim because of the Covid 19 pandemic and would continue the mission to ensure that the school and its facilities benefit the whole community.
The total cost of the planned maintenance and improvements is estimated at £145,000. This is a huge amount to raise but as a start the school has identified about £70,000 from its current budgets that could be used and is hoping to raise a further £10,000 from planned events such as a fun run. To get the project finished in time for the new swimming season in April 2022 most of the remaining £65,000 needs to have been raised by October 2021.
It is a huge task – a tsunami of support is needed, but the School has past experience of raising large sums of money with outside help as shown by the opening of its Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), in 2018. The MUGA is now widely used by a variety of local organisations.
Fund raising by parents and pupils has already started – Whales, one of the infant classes raised over £3,000 one Saturday by organising a fun run in which the participants ranged from 2 to 70 years old. The pupils ran a total of 137km and the adults and siblings ran a total of 130km. The Friends of the School are also actively planning a variety of fund-raising events, including the production of a cookery book and an attempt to swim the distance of the English channel in a series of relays provided a suitable pool can be found.
The School is hoping that more money can be raised from grant making bodies, match funding from employers or donations from benefactors.
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