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New report calls for schools to improve swimming and water safety standards

24/07/2017 Joanna

Primary schools need to be doing more to ensure that students learn how to swim, according to a new report.

Developed by the Curriculum Swimming and Water Safety Review Group on behalf of the Swim Group, the report highlighted the challenges that primary schools face in delivering high-quality swimming and water safety lessons, as well as offering recommendations on how these challenges can be addressed.

It was found that 31 per cent of Year 6 pupils finish school for the summer without being able to swim, while also lacking basic water safety skills - despite both being listed as National Curriculum requirements. Moreover, 63 per cent of parents with Year 6 children say they do not believe their child could save themselves in water.

As such, a panel of experts from across the education, sport and leisure sectors have called for a number of improvements to how swimming is taught in schools, including the provision of specific training for teachers and other staff, in addition to new resources for all those involved in delivering school swimming lessons, including pools.

The report also called for new a national top-up swimming programme for schools with the lowest swimming attainment levels, with achievement badges to be introduced to mark the success of pupils achieving statutory standards.

Swim England chair and Olympic medallist Steve Parry said: "Water safety is the only part of the national curriculum that will save children's lives - it can't be treated as an optional extra.

"We would welcome the opportunity to work closely with Ofsted in setting quality standards for curriculum swimming. That is the 'silver bullet' for ensuring schools deliver swimming."

Tracey Crouch, the government minister for sport and civil society, welcomed the report, pledging that the government and Sport England will continue to work with the Swim Group to improve performance on this issue.

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