Manage school pool use
Find out about safe pool use and community use, during and outside school hours.
- Health and safety
- Day-to-day pool management procedures
- Rules for pool users
- Fences and signs
- Pool use outside school hours
- Sharing pool facilities
- List of school pools
- Leasing pools
You must make sure everyone who is using the school pool with your permission remains healthy and safe.
Schools have a duty to everyone in the workplace, and this includes people using school pools inside and outside of normal school hours (for example summer holidays). Any visitors to your workplace also have a duty to look after their own health and safety.
The board of trustees must be able to show that the school has taken all reasonable steps to ensure people’s health and safety.
Reasonable steps could include:
- an update in a school newsletter setting the schools expectations for use of school grounds outside of normal school hours
- procedures for day-to-day pool management and rules for pool users
As part of managing your pool safely we recommend you review your school’s health and safety systems against the 11 key components of an effective health and safety system.
This will help you meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Health and safety system for schools and ECE services
- Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (external link) (Legislation website)
You must have procedures in place for managing your pool day-to-day.
Make sure that the people involved in managing the pool understand their role.
For example some sample procedures you might want to consider include:
- Regularly check the operation and effectiveness of the pool gates and locks. Replace any locks that stick or don’t close properly.
- Ensure the first aid kit is accessible to pool users and regularly checked.
- Lock pool chemicals away from the swimming pool and changing rooms. Store and dispose of them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Put away pool equipment when not in use as it can be a potential hazard if left lying around. Do not store pool equipment in the same area as the pool chemicals (to prevent students accessing hazardous chemicals).
- Do not allow aquatic toys that are not designed for pool use (such as boogie boards).
- Manage water quality in compliance with current standards (see: Maintenance).
Develop rules for the safe use of your pool.
Display the rules where they can be read by all pool users, such as on a sign beside the gate.
For example some sample rules you might want to consider include:
- Nobody is to swim alone. There must always be at least one pool supervisor present when the pool is in use. Additional supervisors are required as the number of people swimming increases.
- Children under 8 must be actively supervised by someone who is at least 16, who can give immediate help.
- The pool supervisor must make sure the gate is always securely closed.
- Nobody is to swim while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Check the depth of water before entering the pool.
- Check for hazards, such as steep slopes into deeper water.
- No running, jumping, or diving into the pool.
- Return pool equipment to the storeroom after use.
- Boogie boards, surf boards and kayaks are not to be used in the pool.
- The first aid kit is stored in the...
- The closest telephone for emergencies is located at...
School pools do not need professional lifeguards, however risk must be managed and supervision is required.
There must always be at least one pool supervisor present when the pool is in use.
Additional supervisors are required as the number of people swimming increases.
Children under 8 must be actively supervised by someone who is at least 16, who can give immediate help.
Make sure people can’t access the pool when:
- there is no one to supervise, or
- they’re uninvited (such as trespassers entering the pool outside school hours).
To minimise unauthorised use, consider having a security system.
For more information about fences and signage see:
Keeping a school pool open or available outside of core school hours is a decision for the board of trustees.
The board should have a policy around the management of use outside of school hours. This could include volunteer/parent run system with overall supervision by a staff member.
We encourage schools without pools to collaborate with local community groups and councils, or each other. In some cases, schools have worked in partnership with local community groups and councils to co-own facilities and redevelop existing pools.
We believe this approach provides better value for money both locally and nationally and leads to a better use of existing facilities.
School boards make their own decisions about closing pools, whether temporarily or permanently, and they don’t have to tell us that a pool has closed. We don't hold specific information about swimming pools which have closed in the past.
As of March 2017: School pools list [XLSX, 84 KB]
Information for boards: Leasing or hiring school land and buildings.
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