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Nationwide shortage of swimming teachers could see 600,000 miss out on lessons

A nationwide shortage of 8,000 swimming teachers is preventing more than half a million youngsters from learning a vital life skill, warns Swim England.

The national governing body has put lack of teachers down to the coronavirus lockdowns when pools were closed and staff went in search of alternative employment or simply retired.

An inability to deliver practical assessments centres to help train the normal intake of swimming and assistant teachers since the first national lockdown in March 2020 has also exacerbated the issue.

There was a shortage of teachers before the pandemic struck but nine out of 10 leisure operators currently have vacancies for teachers – despite seeing an increase in demand for swimming lessons.

Swim England now fears a clamour for lessons as all lockdown restrictions are eased will not be met due to the shortfall. 

It is calling on qualified swimming teachers no longer working in the sector to consider a return, while trying to book as many practical courses as possible to ensure people can complete their training which had been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Swim England and the Institute of Swimming are working closely to make becoming a swimming teacher accessible to more people by:

  • Introducing a number of recruitment academies where someone can train to be a swimming teacher for only £79 and be matched to an employer
  • Fundraising to deliver additional academies in areas with a higher proportion of individuals from ethnically diverse communities in a bid to address the imbalance of diversity in the industry
  • Working with Active Apprentice and Vision West Nottingham College to offer those eligible up to 40 per cent funding towards the cost of a course.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said without an influx of people becoming swimming teachers, 600,000 could miss out on lessons.

She added: “Helping people learn how to swim is such a rewarding profession but the pandemic has left us facing an increased shortage of teachers.

Varied and satisfying career option

“We needed more people to take up swimming teaching as a career option before the coronavirus outbreak and the situation is now much worse as a result of it.

“As the country prepares to fully reopen from the lockdown restrictions, it’s clear that people of all ages who want to learn how to swim could miss out on lessons because of this shortage.

“We totally understand that, with pools closed during the pandemic, people would look elsewhere for other sources of income or employers would deploy them to other roles.

“However, we would urge them to reconsider returning to swimming teaching, which offers so much flexibility and is such a varied and satisfying career option.

“The lockdowns have meant so many have missed out on learning a vital life skill and we’re keen to ensure this doesn’t escalate when pools can operate at full capacity.”

In 2018 and 2019, more than 17,000 completed Swim England Qualifications swimming teacher courses.

A total of 10,864 passed the Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) Qualification, while 6,515 completed the Level 2 Teaching Swimming.

Swimming teaching jobs are regularly advertised on Careers in Aquatics.

If you are interested in becoming a swimming teacher, you can find out more about the range of options and courses available by visiting the Institute of Swimming website.