Our responsible business commitment is to develop a future generation schools programme on water
What is this commitment?
Research with our customers and community showed education about water was important to those we serve, in particular to influence the next generation of water users. We have therefore committed to a five year programme to increase our education activities to reach more young people year on year.
We plan to upgrade our education materials for our key visitor sites at Arlington and Ardingly reservoirs and if we progress with any new surface water reservoirs we will work with the local community to develop education centres for the site.
We will build on our STEM ambassador programme and run the Know h2ow awards for secondary schools – working in partnership with the STEM Hub to promote this and encourage other organisations to take part too.
This activity will contribute to the WaterUK Public Interest Commitment to promote social mobility in our industry.
Desired impact – For the next generation to understand where their water comes from, to value the work we do, and the part they play, inspiring future water workers from diverse backgrounds.
How have we performed?
Due to Covid-19 this has not had the start we would have wanted. As our education programme is employee-led most of our school speakers had to focus on priority activities and changing work due to the pandemic, clearly schools were closed and teachers were focussed on home-schooling activities.
We took steps to support home schooling where we could, including a partnership with three other water companies and National Geographic to run “The big water quiz” which had an estimated 940 participants, including family members and class attendance. We also worked with other water companies for World Toilet Day and World Water Day to host online school events with 12 schools from our area taking part.
In December 2020 we were able to hold our first zoom lesson to 27 pupils. Feedback from the school was good and positive comments from the pupils showed they had taken on board much of the messages. With scores of 4/5 for the content and presentation. We believe the impact was positive and had planned to do more promotion in the new year. However Covid-19 moved activities back to home schooling.
“I now know how to save water and I think I can!” Pupil at Alton Infant school
A cross departmental group of colleagues has been looking at how to improve our education offerings and surveying schools for feedback on their ideas. This includes developing online learning activities and lesson plans for teachers. We expect to test and implement these during 2021/22.
Impact of Covid-19
Our education programme was put on hold due to Covid-19. This was for three key reasons:
- School visits not allowed and then pupils home-schooling
- Teachers focussed on managing during the pandemic so lacked time to engage with us on improvements
- Community fairs and open days not possible due to Covid-19 restrictions
Although disappointed we couldn’t get to schools or out in the community, this did allow us opportunities to trial some online working and zoom classes which worked well – use virtual methods we engaged with 13 classes during the year and saw at least 387 pupils – but we can’t wait to get back into schools and already in 2021/22 have visits planned and underway.