The Learn to Swim Framework - an introduction for swimming teachers

The Learn to Swim Framework takes a games-led approach to teaching, providing clear progressive stages.

Learners should be able to swim 25 metres by the end of Learn to Swim Stage 7. It is underpinned throughout by the Athlete Development Support Pathway principles.

Here’s what you need to know about the Learn to Swim Framework.

Age group

Suitable for children from around the ages of 4-11 years-old

Key focus areas

It consists of Learn to Swim Stages 1-7. The key focus areas of this Framework are:

  • Developing fundamental movement skills
  • Teaching children to swim using the four strokes of front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly
  • Fun and enjoyment in the water to help children learn

Corresponding Awards

  • Awards for Learn to Swim Stages 1-7 plus Rainbow Distance and other complementary Awards

Teacher qualifications

ASA Level 2 Aquatics Teacher

Recommended training

Fundamentals CPD or Games Led Approach to Learn to Swim CPD

Learn to Swim Framework FAQs

Here are some of our more commonly asked questions about the Learn to Swim Framework.

What are the sections of the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme?
  • Swim England Pre-School Framework
  • Swim England Learn to Swim Framework (Learn to Swim Stages 1-7)
  • Swim England Aquatic Skills Framework (Learn to Swim Stages 8-10)
  • Swim England Adult Swimming Framework
What qualifications do I need to deliver the various stages?
  • An ASA/UKCC Level 2 Teacher for Teaching Aquatics is qualified to lead and deliver aquatic sessions
  • An ASA/UKCC Level 1 Support Teacher for Teaching Aquatics is qualified to assist and support a class under the direction of a Level 2 Teacher
  • It is recommended that to deliver stages 8, 9 and 10, a Level 2 Teacher attends the relevant CPD specific to that discipline
  • An ASA/UKCC Level 2 Coach may also deliver stages 8, 9 and 10 in the discipline specific to their qualification e.g. a Level 2 Water Polo Coach may deliver Water Polo Stages 8, 9 and 10

Staff training, in-house training and aquatic team meetings will also support the sharing of information, knowledge and experience between teachers and sites where there is more than one pool.

Recognition of training for teachers and coaches will support the workforce, raise standards and aid consistency between delivery and sites.

How will consistency be guaranteed when teachers are assessing?
  • Resources detail the expected standards for passing an award. A DVD is also available which may help.
  • Learn to Swim CPD seminars are available.
  • The facility/organisation will have a part to play in supporting consistency between teachers/sites e.g. arrange teacher meetings, in-house training and support teachers in accessing CPD training relevant to their needs.
  • The Swim England Learn to Swim accreditation programme which can be used to support change and improvement within your facility/ organisation, enhancing consistency as well as providing you with a quality kite mark accreditation.
What do I do if another teacher passes to me a swimmer who is not at the right ability?

This scenario is avoidable as the resources are available to clarify the standards expected for assessment purposes. If the scenario does happen, raise the issue at the next teacher’s meeting or discuss it with the programme supervisor and try to identify a common sense solution.

What Awards are included in the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme?

The Programme includes:

  • The Pre-School Framework with the Discovery Duckling Awards, Duckling Awards and I CAN Awards
  • The Alpha Step Awards provide small stepping stones for those individuals who may need additional support. They are particularly useful for a shy/timid child and swimmers with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities who may struggle to progress
  • The Learn to Swim Framework with Stage 1-7 Awards, progress cards and the complementary Awards
  • The Aquatic Skills Framework and the Learn to Swim Stages 8-10 discipline specific Awards
  • The Adult Swimming Framework and the Adult Swimming Awards

Details of all the Awards and supporting resources can be found here

Why change to the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme?

Implementing the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme will add more variety to your swimming programme and therefore enhance the sessions offered to your customers, which can lead to improved customer retention and increases in demand.

It offers a nationally recognised programme designed by industry experts for your customers and covers all swimming ages and abilities.

The Programme also incorporates all aquatic disciplines and therefore widens the opportunities available for swimmers but also enhances the knowledge and experience required of the teacher.

The programme is also the most successful programme of its kind in British Sport and is supported by a wide range of awards which can complement and diversify your programme and motivate swimmers.

How long will it take a swimmer to pass each stage?

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

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

It is recommended that each centre records the date a swimmer starts each stage and has a meeting to discuss how to support any swimmers that are finding it difficult to complete a stage.

What happens if by the end of a programme a swimmer has not achieved all the outcomes?

The child must complete all outcomes in order to receive the Learn to Swim Award.

If a child continues to struggle in completing all outcomes over a considerable amount of time, it may be beneficial for him/her to move up to the next group.

However, information regarding the outcomes that he/she has not achieved must also be passed onto the next Teacher and be re-assessed before achieving the next Award.

Where does a child with a disability fit into the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme?

The Pre-School Framework has a special Additional Needs phase which provides progressive steps for those participants who require additional help prior to entering Learn to Swim Stage 1 of the Learn to Swim Framework. The swimmer, if able, can then progress into Learn to Swim Stages 1-7.

A variety of different CPDs are available to assist swimming teachers with limited experience on how to work with swimmers with additional needs.

It must be recognised that some children may never be able to achieve all stages and so it is important that appropriate exit routes are identified for these swimmers.

How does Swim England ensure facilities/organisations delivering the Learn to Swim Framework are doing so to the expected standard?

Swim England has many mechanisms to support and provide guidance to facilities regarding Aquatic Programmes and delivery.

A comprehensive education and training programme is available to support, delivered by ASA Approved Centres and the IoS.

Swim England provides strong recommendations and clear guidance through resources and training to ensure teachers, coaches, facilities and programmers have the knowledge and information to provide high quality delivery. The onus is placed however on the facility/organisation to take up those opportunities.

What is ADSP and how does it link to the Learn to Swim Framework?

ADSP stands for Athlete Development Support Pathway and identifies a framework for aquatic development.

Within ADSP there are five stages which can be used to describe growth and development. The first of these is FUNdamentals.
  • The Learn to Swim Framework is underpinned by ADSP and all outcomes are derived from progressive skills which form part of the ADSP.
  • The ADSP aquatic headings known as core aquatic skills are: Entry, Exit, Buoyancy & Balance, Rotation & Orientation, Streamlining, Aquatic Breathing, Travel Coordination, with the additional elements of Water Safety and Health & Fitness.
  • The Learn to Swim Stages 1-7 develop the Fundamental Movement Skills, Learn to Swim Stages 8-10 develop the FUNdamental Sports Skills.
  • During Learn to Swim Stages 1-10 an athlete/swimmer will develop a wide-based structure of skills which will give him/her the basics to progress through specific pathways related to individual disciplines or a number of disciplines and then into clubs to refine those skills.
  • The swimmer may choose not to enter a structured club situation, but will still have the skills to enable them to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
What advice would you offer to providers who feel there is a skills gap between stages of the Learn to Swim Framework?

Not all programmes experience these problems and the specific stages where it arises can vary. Our general guidance guidance would be to:

  1. Hold a teachers' meeting to see if all teachers feel the same.
  2. A Stage could be broken down into two classes to ensure a swimmer still progresses through the programme.
  3. Any skills gaps that are encountered could be incorporated into lower stages to ensure swimmers get more practice before they reach the next stage and are therefore better equipped.
  4. Additional Awards can be implemented to keep swimmers motivated.
  5. Teachers need to avoid just teaching the outcomes for that stage and recognise that the outcomes for that stage are the national expected standard but the swimmers in that programme may need more help with some core skills lower down in the stages to help them to learn.

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