Swimming and Water Safety in Schools

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Swimming and the national curriculum

Since 1994, swimming and water safety has been a statutory element of the national curriculum for physical education in England.

This means that every 11-year old child should leave primary school with the skills to keep themselves safe while enjoying swimming with friends and family.

The three national curriculum outcomes

Swimming is the only sport to be included within the national curriculum physical education programme of study. All primary schools must provide swimming and water safety lessons in either Key Stage 1 or 2.

Each pupil is required to be able to do the following:

  • Perform safe self-rescue in different water based situations
  • Swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • Use a range of strokes effectively, for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke.

Teaching all pupils

Since 2012 Swim England has monitored the provision of curriculum swimming and water safety in primary schools, and pupil attainment.

Research has consistently shown that only half of pupils meet the required standards.

There are many reasons why primary schools struggle to deliver swimming and water safety lessons. These include cost, time out of lessons, lack of confidence and a lack of understanding of the outcomes.

Resources to support primary schools

Following a study in to the challenges of delivering curriculum swimming and water safety, the Department for Education, Swim England and the Swim Group joined together to create a resource pack with clear guidance for primary schools, pool operators, swimming teachers and parents.

In addition, Swim England has refreshed it’s School Swimming Charter resources to support teachers and pool operators.

Download the support materials:

The Curriculum Swimming and Water Safety Resource pack is split into four sections:

  • Primary schools
  • Swimming Teachers
  • Pool operators
  • Parents and Pupils

In addition there are guidance documents on the following: