Swim England

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Swim England parents and curriculum swimming research 2017

As part of our ongoing focus on curriculum swimming and water safety attainment levels in primary schools, we asked parents of pre-school children and those 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.

This is the third study in this format and helps us to identify trends within the curriculum swimming and water safety environment.

Key findings

48 per cent of primary school children in England have swimming lessons at school. These are broken down in the following Year groups:

  • Reception – 33 per cent (up from 25 per cent in 2016)
  • Year 3 – 60 per cent (up from 58 per cent in 2016)
  • Year 6 – 51 per cent (down from 58 per cent in 2016)

Understanding of the national curriculum PE programme of study attainment levels:

52 per cent of parents were aware of the national curriculum requirements for swimming.

Awareness of parents of Year 6 pupils of the three national curriculum outcomes:

  • 45 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.
  • 23 per cent of parents knew their child should be able to use a range of strokes effectively by the time they finish Year 6.
  • 14 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:

The ability of Year 6 pupils

  • 67 per cent of Year 6 children are able to swim at least 25 metres unaided (down from 69 per cent in 2014).
  • 56 per cent of Year 6 pupils can use a range of strokes effectively (down from 61 per cent in 2014)
  • 34 per cent of Year 6 pupils can perform safe self-rescue (down from 37 per cent in 2014).

Swimming outside of school

  • 67 per cent of reception pupils, 63 per cent of Year 3 and 78 per cent of Year 6 pupils do not receive swimming lessons outside of school.
  • 51 per cent of parents financially contribute to their child’s school swimming lessons (up from 47 per cent in 2016).
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