Murky waters – continued concern over the quality of school swimming

  • Despite an increase in the number of pupils leaving primary school able to swim the minimum 25 metres unaided (as recommended in the national curriculum) parents are unaware of the required standard and in many cases their own child’s ability, due to a lack of assessment information
  • A new report from the ASA shows that 40% of parents are not being informed of their child’s swimming ability, with the amount of time dedicated to school swimming neither known nor measured by school inspection and accountability body Ofsted
  • With 45% of children aged 7-11 years old (primary school aged) unable to swim a length unaided, and with one in 14 schools (over 1,300) offering no swimming provision at Key Stage 2, the ASA is calling for a continued spotlight on swimming in the curriculum in tandem with a far greater level of assessment
  • The ASA recommends that schools allocate at least 25 hours of study time a year per child to swimming, however the report shows that 55% of schools are not meeting these guidelines
  • Report has recently been presented to politicians and government officials at an All Party Reception in Whitehall; the national governing body for swimming in England awaits a response

  • Calls for every primary school in England to sign up to the ASA School Swimming Charter to pledge to prioritise the only sport that saves lives

     

As the new curriculum beds in to primary schools across England, questions are being asked of school inspection body Ofsted as it is revealed that the standard and regularity of swimming is overlooked in school assessments.

This lack of accountability is worrying for two fifths of parents who have not been informed of their child’s swimming ability, and is particularly concerning with 45% of 7-11 year olds (primary school aged) unable to swim 25 metres unaided.

That’s according to a new report released today by the ASA, which recommends that schools should be allocating at least 25 hours of study time a year per child for curriculum swimming.  

However, the report, which surveyed primary schools across England, shows that less than half of all schools offer that level of swimming instruction, while one in 14 schools (over 1,300) offer no swimming provision at Key Stage 2. This is despite a 40% increase in fatalities amongst all young people in the water in the last year.

If primary schools can commit to adopting the recommended approach, the ASA estimate that approximately 200,000 additional children would leave primary school being able to swim.

Which is why they have today launched the School Swimming Charter, offering primary schools support, training and guidance on swimming to further increase the impact of school swimming provision in England.

While much work still needs to be done, the ASA’s continuing push for more resources and focus on school swimming has led to positive progress in the last 12 months in the number of children now leaving school able to swim 25 metres unaided.

Whilst across the country, 2013 saw 51% of children aged 7-11 year olds being unable to swim 25 metres, this year that figure has fallen to 45%.

Additionally, the average number of lessons made available in a school year has increased from 16 last year to   18 this year.  The amount of time spent in the water is also on the increase.

ASA is keen for momentum to continue and is pushing for the issue to become part of political parties’ education agendas ahead of next year’s general election.

 

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