School summer holidays have arrived, and with them the realisation that one third of children leaving primary school still do not know how to swim well.
Swim England’s new report, released on Monday 24 July, states that “31% of Year 6 pupils will finish school for the summer without being able to swim and without basic water safety skills”. Meanwhile, “63% of parents with Year 6 children fear that their child could not save themselves in water”.
This comes despite 20 years of inclusion of water safety and the capacity to swim 82ft by age 11 in the national curriculum.
The report highlights a series of challenges that prevent schools from reaching national curriculum standards. Among them feature a lack of resources – both material and in teacher training – along with curriculum pressures.
Indeed, Swim England recommends that Ofsted strengthen its inspections on schools’ swimming provision to deter schools from deprioritising their responsibilities.
The other issue is a lack of resources. One in 20 primary schools provide no swimming lessons at all and three-quarters of primary schools travel to local authority pools for lessons – which incurs costs and time that not all schools can afford.
In addition, only 11 teacher-training colleges include swimming in their training, which means many teachers do not feel confident enough to teach children how to swim.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary designate of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that schools need more resources “to hire a pool, pay for qualified instructors and to arrange transport”, the BBC reports.
At BESA, we recognise and support the report’s recommendation that schools should have better swimming resources. Our Resource Our Schools campaign aims to ensure that children “have the water skills their parents expect and they deserve”, as Steve Parry, former Olympic swimmer and Chairman of Swim England, says.