SHOCKINGLY, IN THE UK, 1 IN 4 CHILDREN LEAVE PRIMARY SCHOOL UNABLE TO SWIM, DESPITE BEING THE ONLY SPORT WHICH CAN BE CONSIDERED A LIFE-SAVING SKILL.
Although encouraging news has been forthcoming concerning children and young people’s activity levels overall, having recently recovered to pre-pandemic levels, swimming levels remain 5.6% below pre-pandemic according to worrying statistics published in Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children and Young People report.
Are enough children learning to swim in schools?
The national curriculum stipulates that key stage 1 and 2 pupils must be taught to:
- “swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
- use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
- perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations”
However, just 72% of children meet these guidelines by the time they reach their first year of secondary school. That’s about 1 in every 4 children who are at a high risk of drowning if they were to fall into the water, whether they are playing with friends, on a family holiday or just by accident.
Perhaps even more shocking than children not achieving the National Curriculum target of swimming 25 metres unaided by age 11, 40% of those children who can’t swim haven’t even been offered the opportunity of learning to swim. This highlights the strain on local facilities and how the pressure the education system is facing is negatively impacting schools in teaching this essential life skill.
Cuts in funding for education in recent years have meant further challenges, as schools struggle to balance the necessary financial commitment to swimming, especially when compared with subjects against which they are assessed through league tables, such as Maths and English.
Are enough children learning essential swimming skills?
To make matters worse, this study released by the national governing body Swim England found that 96% of young people are stopping swimming lessons before becoming proficient in essential skills!
The research also found that “while 81 per cent of parents want their children to learn to swim so they can look after themselves if they get into trouble, the majority of mums and dads are taking their children out of lessons before they are able to do so.”
Swim England’s study also discovered that a whopping 6 in 7 parents incorrectly thought that their child was capable of the ‘float to live’ skill if they fell into open water. Worryingly, more than 25% of respondents believed that their child would try to swim to safety – which is far more dangerous!
The issue seems to stem from a lack of wider understanding from parents and guardians of what makes a child able to swim. In fact, in a survey conducted by The Swimming Teacher’s Association, asking teachers to rank swimming skills by what in their experience parents deemed important, front crawl and back crawl were ranked as top priorities while water safety code and rescue techniques were only placed in 7th and 8th out of 9 respectively.
Therefore, it’s essential that parents and guardians keep their children in swimming lessons to ensure they become competent swimmers instead of stopping lessons as soon as they display water competence.
Is swimming still an essential life skill?
With about 400 people drowning each year in the UK, according to the National Water Safety Forum, drowning accounts for more accidental fatalities annually than fire deaths in the home or cycling deaths on the road. Learning to stay safe in the water is a vital, life-long skill. It’s important that kids become competent swimmers and knowledgeable about water safety so that they can enjoy the water safely on a family holiday, or to ensure they would know what to do if they were to get into trouble.
Our swimming lessons are structured initially around a 4-year journey (to reflect an Olympic cycle), which has been designed to mimic Becky’s favourite and World Record swim, the 800m Freestyle.
Based on the structure of our bespoke Learn to Swim programme, Becky Adlington’s SwimStars is delivered by experienced teachers who have been trained to teach ‘the Becky way’. Our rewards scheme has been designed to inspire and motivate children to be the best they can be.
The programme teaches children to become competent, confident swimmers with great technique and water safety skills, who could then make the transition to a swimming club (or another aquatic discipline) should they wish to.
To book your FREE taster session, simply choose a date, time and venue that suits you best and we’ll see you there http://www.beckyadlingtonsswimstars.com/taster-sessions