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ASA report reveals shortage of school swimming

Over 1.1 million primary school children will break up for half term next week unable to be safe in and around water That’s according to a report released today by Swimming’s Governing Body, the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) and Kellogg’s entitled “Learning the Lesson – The Future of School Swimming”, which surveyed 3,501 primary schools on how many of their children have attained Key Stage 2 swimming requirements. It found 51% of children aged seven to eleven cannot swim 25 metres unaided.

The report, the largest ever investigation into the state of school swimming, found that schools are not achieving anywhere near the recommended level of delivery time. The average state school pupil spends just 8 hours and 15 minutes a year in swimming lessons at school, which is well under the 22 hours The Department for Education recommends in the current National Curriculum.

With schools increasingly under pressure to deliver good exam results there are concerns that head-teachers and school governors are not allocating budget to support swimming in the National Curriculum, preferring to concentrate on academic indicators instead, with almost 45% of schools stating that the biggest barrier to delivering better quality school swimming was budget constraints.

There has been a decrease in the number of children leaving school able to swim 25 metres; with 40% of parents of children currently in year 6 saying their child cannot swim the statutory requirement set out by Government, compared to 1 in 3 identified in the 2012 ASA School Swimming Census.

This September each primary school will receive a minimum of £9,000 additional ring-fenced funding as part of the Government’s £150 million injection into PE & School Sport. The ASA is calling for curriculum swimming and water safety to be a priority for this funding, to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn to swim 25 metres by the time they leave primary school.

Commenting David Sparkes, Chief Executive of the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) said, “Swimming is one of the easiest, safest forms of exercise for children of all abilities, and school swimming is the single most effective way of teaching children how to be safe in and around water. Yet swimming is one of the few areas of a child’s statutory education that is all too often left unmeasured, unchecked or, for 1.1m children, unfulfilled.

“The additional £150m of ring-fenced investment by Government for PE and School Sport this September can provide a real lifeline for school swimming. I believe that schools have a rare opportunity to seize the moment in September 2013, and take action by investing in an activity that has a lifelong legacy and the ability to keep future generations safe”.