Trainee PE teachers benefit from ASA instruction

07 May 2014

The ASA has joined forces with academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to conduct a pilot study helping prepare trainee secondary school physical education (PE) teachers to give swimming instruction to students.

Click here to visit the ASA's dedicated School Swimming microsite

Dr Craig Avieson and Dr Penny Lamb, of UEA’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning, have published an article in the journal Physical Education Matters, outlining the findings from the pilot and presenting a new training model for teachers.  They warn swimming provisions are falling to secondary school PE teachers despite the fact that children should be able to swim at least 25 metres by the time they leave primary school, under curriculum requirements for Key Stage 2.

“It is a national problem that children cannot swim by age 11,” said Dr Avieson. “Ensuring children have basic swimming skills is the responsibility of both primary and secondary schools and this is a chance to do something about it. Teaching children such an important life skill should be a priority and there should be joined-up thinking between primary and secondary schools to address this issue.”

In February the government announced additional funding of £150 million a year until 2020 to improve provision of PE and sport in primary schools. The ASA provides advice and recommendations to schools on the use of the funding to ensure school swimming is prioritised. 

In their article, Dr Avieson and Dr Lamb present a new model that uses the ASA’s National Curriculum Training Programme to prepare trainee teachers to give swimming instruction. Developed through a pilot study with UEA’s secondary PGCE Physical Education programme, the model gave trainee teachers confidence in teaching swimming and increased awareness of ways to support lower-ability children.

The article’s findings are supported by the ASA, which conducted the largest-ever school swimming census involving more than 3,500 primary schools, in 2013.

“With 51 per cent of primary school children unable to swim the minimum of 25 metres, it has become essential for secondary PE teachers to understand the fundamental, core aquatic skills of swimming and how these skills transfer to the development of swimming strokes and other aquatic activities,” said Susan Barlow, manager of the ASA’s School Swimming programme.

“The NCTP allows secondary PE teachers to gain this knowledge and understand where these key skills fit. The number one resource is school teachers: with the correct training they can give pupils the best possible start to swimming.”

The ASA provides a website aimed at teachers to provide the essential guidance and support needed to meet the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum requirements.

‘Preparing trainee teachers for teaching swimming: an innovative model of delivery’, Dr Craig Avieson and Dr Penny Lamb, is published in Physical Education Matters, 6 May 2014.

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