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Swim England Parents and Curriculum Swimming Research 2018

What We Do

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

53 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 (same as 2017)
  • Year 3 – 63 per cent (up from 60 per cent in 2017)
  • Year 6 – 64 per cent (up from 51 per cent in 2017)

Attainment figures for Year 6 pupils have remained fairly static since 2017:

  • 72 per cent can swim 25 metres unaided (up from 67 per cent in 2017)
  • 56 per cent can use a range of strokes (same as 2017)
  • 34 per cent can perform safe self-rescue (same as 2017)

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

57 per cent of parents were unaware of the three national curriculum outcomes (up from 52 per cent in 2017).

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

  •  60 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 (up from 45 per cent in 2017).
  • 37 per cent of parents knew their child should be able to use a range of strokes effectively by the time they finish Year 6 (up from 23 per cent in 2017).
  • 18 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 (up from 14 per cent in 2017).

The importance of school swimming provision:

  • 73 per cent of reception pupils, 67 per cent of Year 3 and 77 per cent of Year 6 pupils do not receive swimming lessons outside of school.
  • 67 per cent of parents financially contribute to their child’s school swimming lessons (up from 51 per cent in 2017).

Parents thoughts about school swimming:

  • 32 per cent of parents of Reception children do not feel confident in the water with their children but this drops to 19 per cent of Year 3 parents and 16 per cent of Year 6 parents.
  • 75 per cent of parents feel school swimming lessons accomplish a sense of achievement for the pupils.
  • 84 per cent of parents feel that swimming provides fun, and 60 per cent feel it helps their children make friends.
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