Ballarat Clarendon College bans water bottles in classrooms for some students as part of new trial

A prestigious private school in Victoria has banned water bottles from some of its students’ classrooms, a move that one student says “endangers students’ rights.”

Ballarat Clarendon College, a mixed day and boarding school, is currently carrying out a “water trial” for Year 5 to Year 9 students.

According to the school, students must leave their drink bottles outside the classroom while the lesson is taking place.

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The university said no student would go thirsty as “there are ample opportunities throughout the day to drink water” during recess, lunch and between classes.

“The preference would be for students to access the taps or their water bottles during those times,” he told

Students who have medical conditions and require constant access to water are exempt from testing.

Ballarat Clarendon College said these students will have a message written in their diary telling staff they can have water bottles in class.

“Our secondary school principal spoke to Year 5 to 9 students (aged 11-14/15) about the test on Friday and encouraged students to speak to him if they felt they needed to have their water bottle with them. ” the school said.

So far, the trial has seen “improved classroom climate, student learning and concentration due to reduced noise and fewer bathroom breaks.”

“Clarendon continually explores ways to support student learning and well-being in the classroom,” the university said.

“The trial will be conducted during the colder months and, as always, we are keeping an open mind about its benefits and impacts.”

Ballarat Clarendon College is a coeducational private school and boarding school.
Ballarat Clarendon College is a coeducational private school and boarding school. Credit: Ballarat Clarendon College

One student who reacted to the ban in an anonymous online post said the judgment had “outraged” many students.

They said the ban was a problem since students only had a short break between classes.

“Banning water is putting students’ rights at risk and for such a prestigious school, it seems the focus is not on students’ wellbeing but on their VCE exam numbers,” the student said.

One teacher who commented under the students’ post said they had made the decision to ban water bottles from their own classroom because they were too distracting.

“(I) got tired of throwing bottles, kids getting hit with flying bottles, and Stanley cups spilling. “My kids all know that water bottles should be in bags and they can take an occasional sip if they need to, but bottles on the desk… no way,” they said.

Ballarat Clarendon College was the top performing school in Victoria in 2023, with students achieving an average VCE score of 39.

According to their website, the annual tuition for Year 5 students is $13,500 and just over $20,000 for Year 9 students.