Swim England

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Still ways to ensure Big School Swim can be key part of lessons across the country

While pools might be closed across the country in a second national lockdown, school swimming lessons can still take place if facilities remain open.

However, there is more than one way to able pupils to learn vital water safety skills as Katie Towner, Swim England Head of Learn to Swim, explains.

This week should have been a huge celebration of everything that is great about school swimming.

Unfortunately, the necessary measures taken to tackle the spread of coronavirus has prevented our popular Big School Swim from taking place in its usual format.

School swimming lessons as part of the national curriculum are still allowed to go ahead in the second national lockdown, although we are well aware not everyone will have access to the water as a lot of public pools are closed.

However, there are still ways to ensure that the Big School Swim can be a key part of lessons in classrooms across the country this week.

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in children, so it is vital that every pupil has the opportunity to learn survival and self-rescue skills.

Yes, pools are vital to help pupils achieve the key elements of performing a safe self-rescue and swimming competently using a variety of strokes by the time they leave primary school.

However, there are a number of resources available to help warn of the dangers of being around open water that can be taught in the classroom.

So if you’re walking along a canal path, for example, pupils are aware of what to do if someone gets into trouble.

For that reason alone, there is no excuse for not marking Big School Swim week by ensuring pupils are taught basic water safety skills.

Important that children don’t miss out on water safety

Our free water safety resource pack helps pupils learn about the Water Safety Code, recognise the hazards in different scenarios, how to deal with cold water shock and perform key self-rescue skills.

Of course, these can be put into practice when you’re able to get back in the water but highlighting the dangers of the water can still be taught now in case anyone gets into difficulties.

For younger pupils, there are a host of free activity sheets that can be downloaded to give them an opportunity to continue to learn about water safety and strokes despite not being in the water.

We also recently published our Returning to the Pool Guidance for School Swimming and this shows how swimming lessons can be held safely and gives teachers the necessary information on booking the swim plus what to do before leaving the school, on arrival at the pool and in the water itself.

Schools and swimming lesson providers can sign up to the School Swimming and Water Safety Charter which enables exclusive access to resources and advice as well as regular updates, tips and news to keep lessons fun and exciting.

It’s incredibly important that children do not miss out on water safety lessons as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We’d love to see your examples of how you’re making water safety lessons fun for your pupils as well. Please share your stories by emailing schoolswimming@swimming.org.