FAQs for politicians about school swimming

Duncan Goodhew and Steven Hammond MP. FAQs for politicians.

If your question isn’t covered in our FAQs for politicians about school swimming section below, please try one of the other sections or email us at schoolcharter@swimming.org.

What can politicians do to help improve school swimming?
We are asking politicians to support school swimming by encouraging primary schools in their area to sign up to the School Swimming Charter and to challenge those that don’t. We are also calling on local and national government to prioritise the only sport that saves lives by supporting and promoting swimming facilities and pool stock.

What is the 2014 School Swimming Census?
The School Swimming Census is an annual state of the nation survey into the provision of curriculum swimming in primary schools in England. The results of our third Census were published on 5 November and show that while there have been some improvements, there is still a long way to go before every child leaves primary school with the ability to swim at least 25 metres unaided.

How do the results of this year’s Census differ from 2013?
In 2013 we uncovered the shocking statistic that 51% of children aged between 7 and 11 years old were unable to swim 25 metres unaided, the minimum standard required by the national curriculum. That figure has improved to 45% this year but we still need to do more.

What are you going to do about the state of school swimming?
As a response to the findings of the 2014 Census we have developed the School Swimming Charter, a new initiative that aims to create a direct relationship between the national governing body for swimming and every primary school in England for the very first time. Through this we hope to provide a comprehensive package of support that will help primary schools to access the necessary knowledge and resources required to deliver high quality school swimming programmes.

How will the School Swimming Charter increase the number of children able to swim 25 metres unaided?
By signing up to the School Swimming Charter and working closely with us we believe primary schools will be able to increase the impact of their lessons and therefore teach more children to swim and be confident in water. We also estimate that if primary schools commit to teaching the recommended 25 hours of swimming lessons a year, around 200,000 additional children would leave primary school able to swim.

How will calling for more robust Ofsted inspections improve school swimming?
There is currently no set standard for swimming provision in primary schools. As such there is often a great difference in the standard of swimming provided. We believe primary schools should offer high quality swimming provision which regular, robust Ofsted assessments would provide.

We have also found that 40% of parents are unaware of their child’s progress or ability when it comes to water safety or swimming, and 83% of secondary schools do not know the swimming ability of their incoming pupils. Greater reporting standards would make both of these more transparent.

How will schools pay for improved school swimming provision?
Some parents may believe they have to pay for school swimming but this is not the case – schools should only ask for a voluntary contribution. We want to encourage schools to access the Government’s Primary PE and Sport Premium to support school swimming. Although the Sports Premium cannot be used directly on curriculum swimming, it can be used to pay for School Charter resources, for teachers to go on the National Curriculum Training Programme or provide additional benefits such as Top-Up swimming lessons for those children who need some extra support to learn to swim.


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