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Primary Schools aren't meeting children's needs in terms of swimming lessons. How much does your child do?

(81 Posts)
Sommink Thu 23-May-13 08:20:07

I really am interested in finding out how much your primary school children swim? This is as a parent of a primary school child and as a swimming teacher. Do you leave swimming to the school or do you pay for private on top?

Apparently children are supposed to do 12 hours swimming with the school a year. I know that that doesn't happen where I live as I am the school swimming teacher. I am also aware of just how may children cannot swim and never meet the guidelines of 25m without aids. This is partially because when I am trying to teach 35 kids to swim by myself there is such a difference in standards, from club swimmers to children that have never seen the pool you don't get the opportunity to give the new swimmers the time and input they need.

I am a firm believer in getting all children to swim, but what's the solution if schools and parents cannot afford to do more? One school in an area I used to live stopped taking children that could obtain the minimum of 25m so the non swimmers got more focus, is this a solution for schools on a budget?

Just wanted your views and wisdom really.

HabbaDabbaDoo Tue 02-Jul-13 14:40:36

Our DCs started private swimming lessons at 7 and 8 respectively. That's 30min times 39 weeks.

horsemad1976 Tue 02-Jul-13 14:37:19

We pay for our children to have lessons outside of school. Our DD1 had lessons since she was 4 (she is now 9) and swims competitively for our local club. Our DD2 is just 3 & has been having lessons since she was 1 - she has just moved into Stage 1.

Obviously, DD2 isn't at school yet, but DD1 is in Year 4 & has the opportunity to swim as part of the National Curriculum with her primary school. This academic year she swam for just 8 weeks. I went along as a parent helper. To be honest I was flabbergasted at how many 8/9 year olds could NOT swim! DD1's Yr 4 also swam with Reception year who took over the learner pool at our local baths.

All of Yr 4 were in the large pool but it was sectioned off in widths (three groups) the top end children (including my daughter) who to be quite honest were getting absolutely nothing out of the sessions as they are already beyond the requirements of KS2. The middle section who needed a bit of coaching & confidence giving and the lower section who quite frankly should have been in the learner pool with the reception aged children. In fact two of the reception aged children were moved to the large pool. Jumped in the deep end & swam a length at the age of 4!!!

Swimming is a life saving skill one that EVERY parent should pass on to their child whether this is by lessons with a qualified instructor or by going without and making the effort to take your child swimming yourself.

Our school has it wrong, it sends every child regardless of their ability. As a parent of a child who can swim, competes & hits County times in several strokes I find this frustrating. My daughter doesn't need these lessons & I should be able to opt out given her ability. I would choose to do this & offer my daughters place to another child that does need more than 8 lessons per academic year that is not getting them by other means. I am told I am not allowed to do so as there is no provision for her at school & no one has 'assessed' her ability to that of the National Curriculum (apart from the fact you can see her swim time records on the ASA website!)

I feel so strongly about it I now volunteer at my daughters club & am currently undertaking training to qualify as a coach. I can sit back & enjoy watching my children playing in/around water safe in the knowledge that they have been educated in swimming & water safety.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Tue 04-Jun-13 23:36:56

You're so right about the 2/3 children not being allowed rule -when my dts were 2 i went to local council pool to take them and was turned away - which i found annoying as i had enough flotation devices with me for ten children, no way i would have taken 2 kids otherwise. I remember having a go at them for discriminating against multiple births blush. funnily the council next door would let me in with two and costs £5 for the three of us. Interestingly local pool have now relaxed the age restriction on taking two so we can go there too.
I agree it's a parent's job, subsidised or free swimming for kids would really help.
Like the Swedish idea much better. At school ours go for a term in y3 by which point most can swim as most have private lessons. I started mine in private group lesson at 4.5, 6 months later they can do 10m unaided - but i do take them to practice between and sacrifice the soft play session instead as it's important. Maybe school swimming should focus on kids whose parents can't take them swimming.
V jealous of the lessons for less than £5 nowhere locally offers that!

Notcontent Tue 04-Jun-13 22:53:56

A my dd's school they do it in year 3. It's a joke - the great majority of children need regular swimming lessons for at least a couple of years to become truly proficient. My dd is a good swimmer at 7 but only because she has had lots of one to one and group lessons. I intend to continue with the lessons for quite some time yet even though she can do 25 metres.

It's an important life skill and it's sad that so many children don't get the opportunity to learn to swim properly.

insanityscratching Mon 03-Jun-13 18:52:54

In dd's school from years 3 to 6 each child does 20 weeks of swimming lessons. Each lesson is an hour and dd has learnt to swim through them. We make no contribution to the cost as the children walk to the pool through the country park. Had she struggled we would have funded lessons but the school lessons alongside our trips to the pool has been all that she has needed.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 03-Jun-13 18:42:32

ds(9) had private group lessons for 2 years and one-to-one lessons for 10 months (at the same time so 2 years of lessons in total). Before he passed all the Stanley badges.

Probably took him about 5-6 months of lessons twice a week before he could do his 25m confidently (front crawl and breast stroke).

12 wks of swimming lessons in a large group is a waste of time imo. Agree with naggity, it would be better if there was subsided swimming lessons at local pools.

Naggity Mon 03-Jun-13 18:07:38

The children at our local school attend from Y4 to Y6. Each year gets to swim for one term. They get 15-25 minutes in the pool depending on changing times. We are asked to contribute £2.40 a week for the bus.

My children have attended lessons at our local pool since the age of 6. Despite being a grade 6 in Y4 DD1 was placed in the beginners group. She remained there until she left school. DD2 was a grade 2 in Y4 (she was terrified of water and took a long time to settle into swimming) yet she was placed in the advanced swimming group!

Sadly we now have to stop the local pool lessons. They have put the price up again, so it is now £4.50 per child for 25 minutes. We just cannot afford for them to keep going.

I would prefer it if the government funded cheap lessons at local pools rather than wasting money on school swimming lessons.

BackforGood Mon 03-Jun-13 16:13:29

I don't know where you get the "supposed to do 12 hours swimming within the school year" information from. The only "supposed" I've ever come across was when the National Curriculum came out and the suggestion was that children "should" be able to swim 25m by age 11 / end of Yr6.
Like so many things, I think it should be the parents responsibility, but unfortunately you do get swathes of families that never take their children swimming or take them to swimming lessons. At what point do the state pick up responsibility for teaching those children a life skill. IME, school swimming lessons were a complete waste of time for my dc, and all other dc who could already swim, but, do you then just take the children who can't swim ? Or those whose parents haven't enrolled them for lessons ? How would you organise this, in terms of teaching groups ? Who would fund this ? Not an easy one to answer.

flowery Mon 03-Jun-13 13:09:45

Sorry, 1 or 2 others, not 2 or 3 others.

flowery Mon 03-Jun-13 13:03:46

"I reckon the rule that an parent can't take two or three of their own children in the pool has probably had a massive impact on children being able to swim"

Don't know about that. Surely to teach a child to swim you need to be able to focus on that child, not have 2 or 3 others to worry about at the same time?

IwishIwasmoreorganised Mon 03-Jun-13 13:03:18

We pay for our ds's to have private swimming lessons.

I think school offers a 3 week block of lessons every morning in year 5 (could be 4, we're still in infants).

There's no way that we wanted to wait that long for them to be taught so we made the decision to pay ourselves.

flowery Mon 03-Jun-13 13:00:39

DS1 gets lessons once a week with school, and has done since he started Reception. The school have a pool on site so they are very lucky.

I didn't assume we'd rely on school lessons but actually we have as he seems to be doing really well with them. We go swimming as a family every so often, and on holiday etc, and his progress has been really good so for now I'm happy to stick with the school lessons as they seem to be doing a pretty good job.

Jenny70 Mon 03-Jun-13 12:47:53

In our year of 60 of year 3's, there are 6 who get any improvement - those who have never swum before. The other 2 groups are 35 & 24 of high & medium ability respecticely. All groups are taught by swim teachers. Top group just swim laps and those in squads etc are being told their technique is slipping due to school lessons as they never get any correction. Mid group aims to teach technique, but realistically they flounder, hold sides, stop and never get any 1 to 1, told how to do it on side, but swim however they want.

It is good exercise & kids love it, but swim tuition is lacking - in an env of cost cutting, I would be happy to see this shelved and put back to parents.

Jinx1906 Mon 03-Jun-13 10:57:57

I teach school swimming and find it extreemly rewarding. We see children who at age 12 don't even take their feet of the bottom of the pool and are absolutely terrified. It is so rewarding to see these kids progress and become more confident. It is however not realistic to expect the very nervous children to swim 25m after just one term, especially if you get given a group of 30 of different levels and needs. My 2 are club swimmers, at their school they only swim 2 terms in year 4 for which we pay £70, considering the fact that they walk I don't think these lessons a subsidised? Although I enjoy teaching school swimming I think it would benefit children more if parents would have the option to withdraw from school swimming and that in those schools were it is subsidised parents would have a voucher for a few terms of lessons at the local leisure centre so that at least swimmers would be grouped by ability. £70 is not really value for money if your child is a strong swimmer and ends up with others who can just about manage 25m. It would also be helpful if the paperwork could somehow be simplified. I teach for 3 different leisure centres and 1 private swimschool. I'm registered with the ASA and have valid CRB checks for all 4 workplaces, but schools cannot accept them and still need to do their own. I help with the school swimming at my DD's school on a voluntary basis and I know that some of my fellow teachers would be happy to do the same but they are simply put of by the paperwork! How many CRB checks do we need? Just one extra teacher can make a massive difference to the quality of the session.

holidayseeker Sun 02-Jun-13 19:53:13

At our primary school they also start lessons at yr 3 but I don't know how often they go.

I already take my daughters to private lessons and my eldest is a brilliant swimmer so not sure how much the lessons will improve her swimming.

FriendlyLadybird Sat 25-May-13 18:48:40

DS had both private and school swimming lessons in classes. He swam like a stone. The only thing that got him swimming was one-to-one time with me and with DH. We watched him, could see what he was doing wrong, and invented games that encouraged him to put his face in the water (a major sticking point). He's now perfectly competent, although he can only swim freestyle, because neither of us is any good at any other stroke.

Jellybellyrbest Sat 25-May-13 14:31:13

NI here. V small school. From yr1-7 they swim once a week for 7 months out of the school year. Costs £4 a swim. It's fantastic.

lljkk Sat 25-May-13 14:24:54

I think budgets have been horribly slashed. DC school used to do 9-10 sessions/yr and now it's down to just 5 a year, but at least that is from yr1 all the way thru yr6. School is walking distance to the pool.

CloudsAndTrees Sat 25-May-13 14:12:15

Schools should not have to teach swimming. It is a parental responsibility, like teaching children how to get dressed and brush their teeth.

My children both enjoyed swimming lessons for the fun of it, so I was happy to pay, but they didn't learn anything.

peppajay Sat 25-May-13 10:23:25

We live by the coast and I don't think I know of any child that doesn't have private swimming lessons, so come yr 4 or 5 most children in the school are quite good swimmers. However in more deprived areas parents cant afford lessons and it doesn't seem to be such a big thing. My friend who is a year 4 teacher in Birmingham has 70% of her class that cant swim whereas in Year 4 in my childrens school that is about 5%!! I do think it varies from area to area!!! Our school offers it in year 4 but last year no one took it up as they could all swim confidently!!

clam Thu 23-May-13 21:29:53

Have only skimmed the thread so apologies if someone's already mentioned this, but I reckon the rule that an parent can't take two or three of their own children in the pool has probably had a massive impact on children being able to swim.

FatherSpodoKomodo Thu 23-May-13 20:32:08

DS1 learned to swim before he had swimming lessons with school at Junior age (so year 3)

Unfortunately I can't afford lessons right now for my others.

The ones in junior go for one term, so DS2 is going now till July and my twins went from January to Easter. They are not confident at all really, and I'm hoping once we get a car we can start lessons again (bus fare would be over £10 plus lesson cost)

I don't think it's a thing that schools should be doing, it's such a long time out of school, and tbh they probably don't get that much time in the pool once they are all faffed about changing etc. Plus doing it for one term means when their turn comes around the following year they have forgotten everything if it's not something they do regularly with their parents/other lessons.

FionaJT Thu 23-May-13 20:23:50

My dd's school seem to do pretty well then, they go weekly throughout Yr 3 & 4, with the class of 30 split into 3 ability groups with a teacher/coach for each. Timing/group numbers work out the same as booking the standard after school swimming lessons at the pool.

I chose to take dd to after school lessons from the end of reception until the end of yr 2, purely because I started swimming from scratch with school lessons, and hated being so far behind most of my friends.
As it is she is now in the top group, seems to be progressing and gaining confidence.

chickensaladagain Thu 23-May-13 18:49:13

At dd's school yr 4 go every week

They have 1 swimming coach who has the non swimmers and 3 teachers who split the rest into ability groups -works well

I tried to enrol both my dc in council swimming lessons from reception age but priority is given to the children already in the system so if you went to the mums and tots classes you could get a place. The other places were allocated on 1day each term when you had to go and queue and hope they had spaces by the time you got to the front

I had to book a day off work each time and it took 6 attempts for dd1 and 8 attempts for dd2

After school classes were impossible for working parents as the last one started at 5pm and Saturdays were a nightmare, at one point I had 1swimming at 8 and one swimming at 11

I would have liked them to continue longer but dd1 repeated 2 terms in the same group after she should have moved up a group as there were no spaces in the next group so she was asked to leave as she was blocking a place

pointythings Thu 23-May-13 18:37:28

DD1 had 14 weeks of swimming lessons in Yr4, DD2 had 8. That was it. The top group were taught by a qualified swimming instructor, which made me very hmm - surely the weak and non-swimmers should have had the qualified teacher?

However, since I wasn't aware that schools had to provide swimming lessons, I paid for mine - lessons very good value and quality in our local pool, both DDs went up to ASA 8. It was £90 a term for the brief period when I had both DDs going at the same time, which was tough, but it was worth it. Before that we were taking them swimming weekly anyway and had been from about 8 weeks old - I'm convinced that is why they progressed quickly and saved me a ton of money, but we were lucky to be able to afford to take them.

Swimming is too important a skill to mess about with. If it's going to be part of the curriculum, it needs to be funded and taught properly.

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