By the time your child leaves primary school, they should be able to swim a minimum distance of 25 metres unaided. This is the National Curriculum Key Stage 2 attainment level, yet an astonishing number of children leave school unable to meet this standard.
Even though swimming is a recognised part of the National Curriculum, many schools do not provide a school swimming programme, which can mean children missout on the opportunity to swim altogether. More commonly, it means that schools - or parents - are required to subsidise lessons, which often take place in short blocks. This means that children seldom have enough time to practise the skills they need to learn to swim.
At present, school swimming is not a compulsory part of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 1 (for children from five to seven years).
If schools do choose to teach swimming at this stage, pupils should be taught to:
- Move in the pool (for example, jump, walk, hop, and spin, using swimming aids and/or support)
- Float and move with and without swimming aids
- Propel themselves in water using different swimming aids, arms and leg actions and basic strokes.
During Key Stage 2 (age seven to 11 years), swimming is a compulsory part of the National Curriculum. At this stage, pupils should be taught to:
- Pace themselves in floating and swimming challenges related to speed, distance and personal survival
- Swim unaided for a sustained period of time over a distance of at least 25m
- Use recognised arm and leg movements on both their front and back
- Use a range of recognised strokes and personal survival skills (for example, front crawl, backstroke, sculling, floating and surface diving).
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