Swim England Parents Research 2016

As part of our ongoing focus on curriculum swimming and water safety attainment levels in primary schools, we asked parents of children in Reception, Year 3 and Year 6 about their child’s swimming ability.

Aim of the research

The aim of the research was to understand parental perceptions of swimming provision. By asking about their child’s ability and their own understanding of what is required by schools, this helps us to understand the wider school swimming landscape.

Key findings

Parents want their children to be able to swim for a range of reasons:

  • ensure my child can swim safely if they got into difficulty (51 per cent of parents).
  • ensure my child learns an important life skill (35 per cent of parents).
  • increase my child’s water confidence (30 per cent of parents).
  • have fun in the water (23 per cent of parents).

Understanding of attainment levels:

  • 51 per cent of parents said they are not made aware of their child’s swimming ability by the school.
  • 55 per cent of parents were unaware of the three national curriculum outcomes (swimming 25 metres, using a range of strokes, knowing how to self-rescue).

Of the three national curriculum requirements:

  • 49 per cent of parents were aware their child should be able to swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres by the time they finish Year 6.
  • 33 per cent knew of parents were aware their child should be able to use a range of strokes effectively by the time they finish Year 6.
  • 22 per cent of parents were aware their child should be able to perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations by the time they finish Year 6.

The importance of school swimming provision:

  • 69 per cent of Year 6 children are able to swim at least 25 metres unaided.
  • 40 per cent of reception pupils, 40 per cent of Year 3 and 50 per cent of Year 6 pupils do not receive swimming lessons outside of school.
  • 19 per cent of parents of children in Year 6 are not considering enrolling their child into swimming lessons. Of these, 21 per cent cannot swim one length of the pool.
  • 23 per cent of parents of Year 6 children feel swimming classes have not been easy to access during their child’s time at primary school.
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