General FAQs about school swimming

Kids in classroom. They love asking questions so here are a few they and others may ask.

If your question isn’t covered in our general FAQs about school swimming section below, please try one of the other sections or email us at

What is the School Swimming Census?
The School Swimming Census is an annual look at the state of school swimming in England. The 2014 Census will be the third Census carried out by the ASA.

The first Census outlined an overview of the state of school swimming, whilst the 2013 report provided a high profile announcement of the shocking statistic that 51% of primary school children aged 7-11 years were unable to swim 25 metres unaided, the minimum standard required by the national curriculum.

This year there are signs of movement in the right direction as the figure has dropped to 45%. Although this is a very positive outcome to be celebrated, there is still much to be done and we need to increase the pace to ensure the numbers improve year on year.

What is the School Swimming Charter?
The School Swimming Charter is an initiative that aims to create a direct relationship between the national governing body for swimming and primary schools in England for the very first time.

Essentially the Charter is 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.

What is the School Swimming Manifesto?
Our six-point manifesto provides an overall focus for all our work in influencing central and local government and supporting primary schools to take school swimming seriously. It also provides a common purpose for all those involved in the planning, preparation and delivery of swimming in schools.

  1. Every child learning to swim in primary school
  2. Robust monitoring of school swimming
  3. Improve training for primary school teachers
  4. Swimming as a school budget priority
  5. Support at secondary schools
  6. Help keep school pools open

What is the ASA Vision for School Swimming?
It states ‘To ensure that every child has the opportunity to participate in high quality school swimming linked to community programmes, delivered by appropriately qualified people in a safe environment.’

 Who knows about the Charter?
The details of the Charter are being communicated directly to primary schools in England for them to sign up online. We are spreading the word as much as possible to parents via national and local press and broadcast media.

Alongside this, we have also been advising MPs, local authorities, swimming lesson providers and swimming teachers.

How do I give feedback on the Charter?
You can use the feedback form here or email us at We welcome feedback from anyone involved in school swimming. Positive feedback from pupils and schools is great because it will help to encourage more primary schools to sign up to take school swimming seriously.

Of course we also welcome suggestions and ideas for development of the Charter – it’s completely new and we accept that it may not be perfect straight away. We hope that our offering for schools will be constantly evolving to meet their changing needs.

How does the Charter link with Ofsted inspections at schools?
There is currently no requirement for Ofsted to inspect school swimming lessons. As with all PE lessons, Ofsted only inspects the class that is taking place during their inspection. This means that some school swimming programmes might never be inspected and objectively reported on.

The ASA feels very strongly that teachers, parents and pupils have the right to have their swimming lessons more rigorously assessed, and so are calling on the Department for Education to push for Ofsted to change their methods.

How does the Charter link with the national curriculum requirements set down by the Department for Education?
The national curriculum has recently been revised and is now in operation. It states ‘All schools must provide swimming instruction either in Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2. In particular, pupils should be taught to swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres, use a range of strokes effectively such as front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke and perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations’. The overall aim of the Charter is to help and support schools in meeting these minimum standards. In particular we strongly recommend that schools devote at least 25 hours of study time per child to curriculum swimming. 

What can Pool Operators do to support school swimming?
Pool Operators have an incredibly important role to play. We want Pool Operators to encourage schools to make greater use of their facilities and to use their government funding for the provision of extra teaching staff to help with teacher:pupil ratios, as well as providing Top-Up lessons to help those pupils that are struggling to achieve the minimum standards. We will also be encouraging primary schools to share their School Swimming Charter resources with Pool Operators to plan the delivery of their school swimming programme in partnership.


website: Skylab