Learn to Swim Companion

A guide for parents and learners

Swim England Learn to Swim Framework Stages 1-7

Learn to Swim Programme

The Swim England Learn to Swim Framework is about developing confident and competent swimmers through fun and enjoyment, and Learn to Swim Stages 1-7 are at the heart of the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme.

It is the most widely known part of swimming lessons for children and is the backbone of swimming lessons for primary school aged children.

Each of the seven stages of the Swim England Learn to Swim Framework has a clear set of targets for the pupil to meet so they can get to the next stage.

Swim England recommends that children don’t just stop going to lessons once they can swim, increasing their competence in the water helps to make sure they can keep themselves safe.

This part of the Programme not only teaches a child to swim using the four strokes. It also gives them a number of other skills, which when put together, give children the ability to do a range of other water-based sports.

The Swim England Learn to Swim Framework gives children confidence in their ability to swim. From this comes more enjoyment of swimming, a love for swimming and being in the water and the skills and motivation required to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through regular swimming through to their adult life.

Fun and Games with the Learn to Swim Framework

The easiest way for a child to learn a new skill is through fun and games. This Framework still has a high focus on having fun and enjoying being in the water.

It takes a games-led approach to learning to swim, and gives the core aquatic skills needed to become competent swimmers. These are:

  1. Entry
  2. Exits
  3. Floatation and Balance
  4. Rotation and Orientation
  5. Streamlining
  6. Aquatic Breathing
  7. Travel and Coordination
  8. Water Safety
  9. Health and Fitness

By learning and then mixing together these skills, a child will be able to understand the processes needed to swim all of the four strokes; front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.

Questions parents and swimmers ask about the Framework

Parents, guardians and learners often have a lot of questions about the Learn to Swim Framework. Here are our most frequently asked questions and answers.

What is the Learn to Swim Programme?
  • It is the national syllabus produced by Swim England to assist and support the delivery of swimming lessons.
  • It is a single programme for swimmers to learn how to be competent and confident in the water.
  • It is a multi-skill programme for swimmers to learn how to swim and be proficient in water, which will allow them to then make the choice to continue to participate in any sports later on e.g. Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo
What should I expect from each lesson?

The lessons should be led by a Swim England qualified swimming teacher and each class should include up to a maximum of 12 swimmers. The teacher will look to provide a variety of different fun-based activities to help the swimmers learn new skills and throughout the lesson they will provide feedback and instruction to help each individual swimmer develop.

Some swimmers may be given slightly different activities depending on their strengths and weaknesses to help them focus on their individual needs.

As the lessons progress the swimming teacher will record progress made against the outcomes required for each Stage. When a swimmer is able to complete all the outcomes consistently they will be rewarded with a badge and certificate and may be moved into a new class depending on the structure and size of the programme.

How long will it take my child to pass each Learn to Swim Stage?

This will vary with every swimmer depending on their skills and experience.

If a swimmer has the experience of pre-school or adult and child sessions then he/she may move faster initially through Learn to Swim Stages 1 and 2. This is because they will be familiar with the environment and should be more confident in the water.

Some children are more naturally competent and confident in the water and therefore will progress faster. Other children are slower to learn new skills but can quite often become stronger more proficient swimmers as they progress.

The most important factor is that each child learns to swim and enjoys learning to swim.

Each Learn to Swim Stage will have a number of complementary Awards which recognise that a child has completed a particular skill within the whole Stage.

These are great motivators for children who may get stuck on a particular Stage, ask the swimming teacher about these.

What should I do if I think my child has completed a Stage but not been issued an Award?

Teachers are encouraged to continually assess each child against the outcomes of the Stage, however some lesson programmes will administer the presentation of badges and certificates in different ways. If in doubt ask your teacher or the pool reception staff.

It is also worthwhile remembering that children need to show some consistency in their ability to perform the tasks so the teachers will keep an eye on swimmers to ensure they can do the task more than once.

How long should my child stay in swimming lessons?

Learning to swim is a life skill and it is important that any swimmer stays with the programme until they become competent and strong. Swimming should be seen in the same light as reading or writing, learning is just the start of development.

Swim England recommends a swimmer completes up to Learn to Swim Stage 7 through swimming lessons to give them a solid base to help them enjoy swimming and swimming related activities throughout their life.

What happens after my child achieves Learn to Swim Stage 10?

Opportunities to continue swimming should be available to all swimmers who complete the Learn to Swim Programme.

Activities may include joining a club in Swimming, Water Polo, Diving or Synchronised Swimming, or completing the Rookie Lifesaving course.

There are also recreational swimming opportunities and other water based sports. Your local pool should be able to offer support here.

What happens if my child hasn't achieved all the outcomes by the end of the lesson programme?

The child must complete all outcomes in order to be awarded the relevant Award. If a child continues to struggle the teachers may agree it would be more beneficial for the swimmer to move up to the next group. But, they must continue to work on the outcomes they have yet to complete.

Where do disabled children fit into the programme?

Disabled children should be encouraged wherever possible to take part in the various Stages of the Learn to Swim Framework.

The Additional Needs phase provides progressive steps for those participants who require additional help prior to entering Learn to Swim Stage 1. Alpha Step Awards support the Additional Needs phase of the Programme. The swimmer then progresses into the Learn to Swim Stages.

It must be recognised that some children may never be able to achieve all Stages of the Learn to Swim Framework but Swim England does provide resources and training to try and help swimming teachers provide a comprehensive programme.

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