Test the Water

UKSA celebrates the Ten Year Anniversary of Test The Water!

UKSA’s Test the Water programme offers a half-day water-based adventure FREE to every Year 6 Island school with the aim to support all Island children to gain water-confidence, understand water safety, and to support students to develop confidence and life skills such as communication and resilience.
This coming August we are celebrating 10 years of our Test the Water Programme.  As the anniversary approaches, UKSA are looking to track down some of the Island’s first beneficiaries to see where they are now. If you went on a Test the Water trip with your primary school in 2014, we would love to hear from you and are offering the chance for you to return to UKSA with five of your friends and family for a free Watersports Fun Day this summer!
UKSA instructor with group of children on a power boat

Launched in 2014

The first Test the Water programme was launched in August 2014 and delivered to 1,123 pupils. To date, the programme has seen 10,437 Year 6 children enjoy half a day of watersports at UKSA from over 50 primary schools.

Despite growing up no more than 20 minutes away from the sea, we know that a significant number of children on the Island have never been in the water. Each year UKSA funds a day on the water for all Isle of Wight Year 6 children, supporting around 1,500 local beneficiaries throughout the year.  The programme was designed to provide children on the Island with the opportunity to get on the water, regardless of background and without the barrier of cost.

“The whole sailing experience was amazing, and it was great to learn new things. At the start I was very nervous because I’ve never been on a boat before, but it was really fun and can’t wait to do it again.”
2023 Test the Water Beneficiary
“The children love it, it’s great fun. it so important for them to feel safe around the water. It’s fantastic!”
Heather, Island Teacher 
“The staff get everyone along and get the children sailing without it being a big thing, they don’t even realise that they are doing it. It’s a real sense of fulfilment and overcoming what they are scared of, it’s really empowering.”
Ollie, Teacher Newport Church of England Primary School


Fundraising to enable opportunities for all

UKSA offers the Test The Water programme to every year 6 child on the Island free of charge, meaning that every child can participate regardless of background or financial situation. This inspiring programme is funded entirely through the donations of individuals and local Island businesses.

In 2024 Test the Water will cost £42 per student, this means we need to raise £63,000 to ensure that every Year 6 Island class is able to participate in ‘Test the Water’ this year. It is only through continued support of our Test the Water programme that we can meet this local demand and empower children and young people to reach their true potential.


John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre, provider of full-fibre broadband across the Isle of Wight said: “At WightFibre we care about our Island community. Through our sponsorship of the Test the Water programme, we are happy to help UKSA deliver new and positive life experiences for many young Islanders who otherwise – despite living on an Island – would never get the opportunity to get in or on the water. UKSA does amazing things and at WightFibre, we are happy to do our little bit to help but more support is needed to ensure this fantastic initiative will continue for many generations to come”.

We are also very grateful to receive continued support from our Test the Water Patron, Grace Palmer, who said: “Since 2014 over 10,000 Isle of Wight Year 6 students have taken part in the Test the Water programme.  I am honoured to be patron of the programme which enables young people to have the opportunity to unlock potential in themselves in a safe learning environment outside of their comfort zone. I chose to become involved in the programme right from the start as I feel strongly that all Island children should have an opportunity to go out on the water which surrounds their Island home.”

UKSA were also very thankful to receive a continuation of funding support from Island charity The Daisie Rich Trust and a donation from Cowes Town Council in support of our local cause. We were fortunate enough to be one of the chosen charities of the year for the Esplanade Gala and in July and were also one of the chosen charities supported by Cowes Classics Week, where the organisation donated a percentage of its racing fees to support the programme. Other supporting donations were also generously received from valued donors Claire Stokes and Fabian French and also the Tesco Groundworks Community Fund, The Royal London Yacht Club Community Trust and The Cowes Network who hosted a networking event and bake sale in support of UKSA.


How can you help?

UKSA will continue to fundraise locally ensuring that no students miss out on invaluable outdoor learning, but we can only continue to change the lives of young people with local support. You can get involved and support our local cause by donating to/or fundraising for UKSA.

A contribution of just £3.50 per month will enable a child to experience an adventure on the water.

Make a donation to Test the Water

UKSA Fundraising opportunities

Caroline Sice, Head Teacher, Lanesend Primary School says..
“I see every day the impact of this (child poverty and deprivation) and how it can result in low confidence, low self- worth, low mood and low aspirations. Many of our children miss out on life’s opportunities and the experiences that many other children enjoy because of cost and mindset.”


“Our children’s experiences should not be limited by cost. It is our aim that every child experiences a range of opportunities offered to them from trips away, theatre visits, activities, sports and sailing here at UKSA. I know what a difference you are making by supporting the ‘Test the Water’ programme, I see every day the children develop in confidence and self-esteem to become more prepared for life’s aspirations.”


Next steps following Test the Water

We are working hard to ensure free or subsidised follow-on opportunities are available for interested students, through our pathway programmes such as Polly’s Challenge, Fun Days and our Sea.Change Foundation Programme.

To find out more information on what’s available, take a look at our Leisure pages here.

“I visited UKSA in year 6 with the Test the water programme. It was a really nice way to get us on the water and a step in. After Test the Water I came back and did a week’s Dinghy course, and when I was old enough, I came back to UKSA and got a job as a Watersports Instructor. I’m now working towards becoming a Senior Instructor.”
Jamie, Test the Water participant


We wanted the children to receive a unique experience that would encapsulate the notion of a broad and balanced curriculum. It is increasingly difficult to find opportunities that children may not have already experienced, but UKSA gave them adventures and challenges that they had never had before. The environment was very safe and secure which is essential when you are trying to organise a residential visit.

Longlands Primary School -Residential Trip

Read more

Register your interest

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.