Safe Supervision for a quality teaching and coaching swimming programme

The ASA, in association with the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management (ISRM), takes a position on safety and quality of swimming programmes. We feel a safe environment is paramount to swimming lessons and coaching sessions but the quality of the learning experience is also important.

With regards to safety, pupil to teacher ratios have been agreed by the industry’s lead agencies as a guide for safe supervision during lessons and coaching sessions – but the ASA is also keen to stress it is important that a full risk assessment is undertaken in each case to determine actual pupil to teacher ratios. Risk assessment should be at the heart of all decision-making on safety in a swimming environment – and this especially applies to swimming lessons and coaching sessions.

The ASA's document Safe Supervision of Programmed Swimming Lessons and Training Sessions is currently under revision

The ASA gives this guidance because there are many factors that would influence safety, not just the pupil to teacher ratio. These factors could include the:

  • Lifeguard provision – is the supervising teacher carrying out a dual role of teacher and lifeguard?
  • Design of the pool where the teaching is taking place, e.g. shape and blind spots, water depth
  • Ability of pupils being taught
  • Number of assistants and what level these assistants are qualified to

However the quality of the learning experience is also important and this will be dictated by the quality of the teacher or coach who should hold an appropriate UKCC (UK Coaching Certificate) qualification. The class size will also be determined by the learning outcome the teacher or coach wishes to achieve.

Clearly a competent ASA qualified teacher, licensed with the ASA, would under certain circumstances handle large groups; however smaller groups may be necessary for children with special needs.

 “The ASA is committed to ensuring all children are taught to swim using a quality programme, delivered by appropriately qualified teachers or coaches in the safest environment.

“The industry acknowledges that the ASA National Plan for Teaching Swimming ensures the quality of learn to swim schemes, and UK Coaching Certificate endorsement means our Level 2 teachers and coaches have reached a level of competence expected by Sport Coach UK and Skills Active  allowing them to teach effectively.” Anne Adams-King, the ASA’s Director of English Programmes.

The ASA and other agencies base their advice on safe supervision on the directions and guidance given within the Health and Safety publication Managing health and safety in swimming pools

The Guidance Booklet for the Management and Delivery of Teaching and Coaching of Swimming also offers advice on a number of learn to swim areas, including advice on safety issues in association with ISRM.

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