Swim England

A nation swimming

Help us to shape the future values and vision of Swim England at our roadshows

SEND, equality and diversity in swimming

Special educational needs, disability and swimming

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential in swimming.

To achieve this, all learners need access to the best possible teaching and facilities, whether learning at school, outside of school, or into adulthood.

Find out more how you as a teacher, operator or swim school can support SEND learners in swimming by taking a look at the business support for inclusion and inclusion resources for teachers sections.

If you are a learner, parent or carer looking for help on swimming with additional needs, visit our guidance for learners or guidance for parents/carers pages and contact us on the contact forms provided.

Equality and diversity and swimming

Swimming should be accessible for every single person, regardless of ability or any of the nine protected characteristics as outlined in the Equality Act (2010). The nine protected characteristics are:

  • Age.
  • Disability.
  • Gender reassignment.
  • Marriage and civil partnership.
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Race.
  • Religion or belief.
  • Sex, sexual orientation.

It is illegal to discriminate against anyone based on any of these nine protected characteristics.

Visit the gov.uk website to find out what each of these characteristics mean.

What do we do to support equality and diversity?

Everyone should have access to swimming lessons, regardless of age, ability or background.

We work with teachers, pool providers, swim schools, clubs and our participants to ensure our products and programmes are accessible to all.

Find out more about our work in this area by visiting these sections of the hub or areas of our website:


Click or tap below to find some helpful definitions.

Equality and diversity

Equality doesn’t mean that everybody is treated equally, but that everybody is treated fairly; diversity is about recognising that there are individual and group differences and that people should be treated according to need.

Special educational needs (SEN)

A special educational need is when a child or young person (0-25 years) has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. The young person might find it difficult to learn new things compared to the majority of others of the same age.

Or, they may have a physical disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of facilities provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions. Post-16 institutions often use the term learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD) instead of or as well as SEN.

(Cited from: gov.uk SEND Code of Practice 0-25 years).

Learning difficulty/learning disability

Learning disability is a term that can be used into adulthood (0 -25 years and over) whilst SEN is quite specific to the 0-25 year age group.

Similar to SEN, it is when an adult or child has reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with performing everyday activities, such a shopping or socialising.

It can affect someone for their whole life. Those with a learning disability take longer to learn and may need additional support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people.

(Cited from: mencap.org.uk).


The Equality Act (2010) refers to a disability as a physical or mental impairment that has ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on an individual’s ability to perform day to day activities.

(Cited from: gov.uk).


This refers to special educational needs and/or disabilities. It is a term commonly used when referring to children, young people and adult groups who have a special educational need and/or physical disability which means they require additional support when performing day-to-day activities and sports.