With the support of the Sports Think Tank and Saje Impact Director Andy Reed, the Swim Group has today launched an independent report setting out recommendations to ensure all children leave primary school able to swim.
Swimming and water safety has been a statutory element of the national curriculum for physical education (PE) programme of study since 1994. However, annual research by Swim England shows that since 2012 only half of children aged between 7 and 11-years-old have met the required swimming standard.
The Government recognised the importance of addressing this by including a commitment within Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation to establish a Curriculum Swimming and Water Safety Review Group to ‘advise on how to ensure that no child leaves school unable to meet a minimum standard of capability and confidence in swimming’.
The Swim Group consulted with a wide-range of representatives from across the education, sport and leisure sectors, including Nuffield Health, DfE and Everyone Active to consider the challenges around swimming and water safety in schools. As a Review Group member, the Sports Think Tank has been committed to ensuring that the best evidence was considered by the review group as they made their recommendations that all children are taught these vital skills.
The Swim Group report reveals that at least one in 20 primary schools are not providing any swimming lessons at all. Of the remaining primary schools, swimming provision is so poor that just over a third of schools (36%) are providing effective lessons that reach all three national curriculum standards. The report challenges government to enhance the provision of school swimming and acknowledges that an additional barrier to learning is the confidence amongst primary teachers to teach swimming.
The Review Group has made a series of recommendations on how swimming in primary schools can be addressed. These include specific training and new resources for school teachers and other teaching staff, a new national top-up swimming programme for schools with the lowest swimming attainment levels, and achievement badges to celebrate the success of pupils achieving statutory standards.