Schools must do more to get kids swimming

Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.comHaving swimming and water safety skills is fundamental, and along with being a lifesaver it opens up a world of fitness and leisure activities to create healthier lifestyles.

So it is surprising that new figures from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) show nearly half of seven to 11 year olds cannot swim 25 metres unaided – that’s 200,000 children every year denied the chance to learn this essential skill.

Swimming is the key tool against drowning. It is important because around one quarter (our estimate) of all drowning happens to people who never intended to get wet, and were just spending time by the water.

Although much is being done in the majority of primary schools to ensure their children can swim, to discover that 45 per cent of Key Stage Two students cannot perform this most basic task in water is a damning indictment.

There has been positive work to address the problem, retaining the obligation within the curriculum is good news, but more has to be done. For example, why should schools rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted retain that rating if they do not provide swimming lessons?

David Walker_2013

David Walker, RoSPA leisure safety manager

A particularly worrying finding is that four in 10 parents do not know their children’s swimming ability.

Not only does swimming help to prevent drowning, it also has a whole range of other benefits. It is one of the best forms of exercise, and gives people the confidence to try new and exciting activities.

We support what ASA is doing as every child has a right to learn swimming and water safety skills.

To find out more about what can be done, see

David Walker, RoSPA leisure safety manager

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