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Swim England welcomes new guidance to help pupils receive high-quality PE

Swim England has welcomed new guidance which offers ideas to ensure youngsters receive high-quality and inclusive PE, sport and physical activity at school.

With swimming and water safety a key part of the national curriculum, the newly-published Enhancing Physical Education Provision and Improving Access to Sport and Physical Activity in School document has a strong aquatics presence.

It includes a case study on how one school took increased steps to ensure its pupils received swimming lessons as part of the minimum two hours of PE that should be delivered each week.

The guidance also references Swim England’s School Swimming and Water Safety Charter which offers free digital resources to help improve lesson quality and impact.

Phil Brownlie, Swim England’s head of public affairs, welcomed the guidance, which has been created by the Department for Education.

He said: “It’s pleasing to see there is a continued focus within the guidance on the importance of swimming and water safety.

“We hope it will be a useful for schools and help ensure more youngsters are able to achieve the minimum national curriculum targets for school swimming lessons.

“Swim England made its School Swimming and Water Safety Charter free to schools to help support them with practical resources and tools to help more children learn this vital skill.

“We are also proud of our work through the Inclusion 2024 project to help schools, lesson providers and pool operators make sure their swimming programmes are fully inclusive and that has already seen more than 1,000 educators and swimming teachers receive training and development to support pupils with SEND in school swimming.”

The guidance suggests schools can use the PE and Sport Premium to raise attainment in primary school swimming and water safety by funding top-up lessons for those pupils that do not meet national curriculum requirements.

Step forward

Phil added: “The guidance highlights that, currently, evaluation of the swimming and water safety element of the curriculum is ‘limited’. Better monitoring is crucial to improving swimming levels.

“We’re hopeful the introduction of the online reporting tool this year will be a step forward in targeting support where it is most needed and seeing a rise in attainment levels.”

St Crispin’s secondary school, in Wokingham, is featured in the guidance having formed a link with a local independent school – Ludgrove – to increase the number of year 7 pupils accessing more high-quality PE time in swimming

Teachers at St Crispin’s had identified those pupils who were classed as weaker or non-swimmers and they were then taught to swim by specialist swimming instructors in the Ludgrove swimming pool.

This intervention and relationship between schools ensures that St Crispin’s can provide pupils with access to an even broader offer as part of the minimum two hours curriculum PE time.

Case studies such as this will help schools to meet both the ambitions of the national curriculum and the Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines, which recommends that children should take part in moderate to vigorous physical activity for an average of 60 minutes a day.

The new guidance complements up to £57 million which is already supporting more than 1,000 schools across England to open sport facilities outside of the school day.

This fund is targeted at girls, disadvantaged pupils and pupils with SEND.

Primary schools are also able to draw on more than £600 million funding across academic years 2023-24 and 2024-25 for the PE and Sport Premium, which is designed to help children get an active start in life.

To sign up to the Swim England School Swimming and Water Safety Charter and download the free digital resources, please click here.

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