In a move to boost student health, schools are teaming up with health and water companies to introduce a water only initiative which commits staff and students to consume only tap water whilst on school grounds.
Whether by coincidence or design, the programs follow research from the universities of East London and Westminster which, in 2012, showed that drinking water during exams can improve students’ academic achievement.
The six researchers recorded the behaviour of 447 undergraduate students across three different cohorts in relation to whether students brought drinks, and the type of drinks they brought, into exams.
The study found the grades of students who had brought water into the exams improved by up to 10%.
Recognising these benefits, organisations such as Barwon and Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) are rolling out programs that, while different in name, support a common goal - to improve student health and learning.
Geelong schools Ceres, East Geelong, Herne Hill, Geelong Baptist, Newcomb Park, Highton and Oberon primary are part of such an initiative being implemented in schools by Barwon Health and Barwon Water.
Susan Parker, from Barwon Health, told the Geelong Advertiser that while the majority of primary students drink water already, the program helps to improve the health of those who don’t.
“Our data shows that 96% of local primary school students only drink water at school anyway so this is not a big change, but just helps that last four per cent,” Parker said.
Further north, another ‘water only’ initiative is taking root. Primary schools in Goulburn Valley are signing up to an initiative by GVW called the ‘Water Only Schools’ program.
Tallarook Primary School will be joining other ‘Water Only’ schools in the area next week, removing all sugary drinks from canteen shelves and committing staff and students to consume only tap water on school grounds.
In a statement, Kristy Elrington, GVW’s education officer, said the vast availability of sugary drinks sends the wrong message to children about what is a “suitable everyday drink”.
“The availability of sugary drinks at school, either in lunch boxes, the school canteen, lunch orders or vending machines, sends a message to children that these are suitable everyday drinks,” Elrington said.
“By encouraging students to drink ‘water only’ at school, we hope to convey a healthy message to children, with potential to also change community attitudes.”