Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

The differences between private and school swimming lessons


The differences between private and school swimming lessons are not as many as parents believe. However, there are some things to consider if you are choosing between the two.


Of all the differences between private and school swimming lessons, cost is the most apparent. School swimming lessons are free. Private lessons are more in depth and personalised, but invariably this comes at a cost.


School swimming lessons are part of the National Curriculum. Children are required to meet the standard distance requirements of 25m unaided swimming so the focus will be on attaining this.

Private swimming lessons allow a much more comprehensive course, with 1-1 attention between the swimming teacher and the student.

Private tuition is less rigid. It will teach your child everything they need to know about swimming and pool safety, but the emphasis is on them enjoying the experience, keeping healthy and learning to swim at their own pace.

School lessons follow a set curriculum which prepares them to ensure they are safe around water and can get to safety should they need to. Its aims are often simpler; to make sure that your child can swim the length of a pool by the time they finish primary school.


Swimming pools have always provided a place for like-minded people to congregate, spend time swimming together and perhaps enter into some light-hearted competition.

For some children, spending time swimming with a group of strangers in private lessons might not provide the same sort of social integration they would get in school lessons.

Parental Input

Another difference between private and school swimming lessons is that private lessons allow parents to have more of an input in what their child is learning.

You can get feedback as to how your child is doing, rather than a little snippet in the school report…if anything at all!


If you’re not sure whether to book your child in for private swimming tuition or just rely on their school swimming lessons, the main considerations are:

  1. Does your child really enjoy swimming?
  2. Can you afford private swimming lessons?

If the answer to either of these is no, then there is nothing wrong with allowing your child to learn the essentials at school, then looking at private lessons at a later date if they wish to.