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So what would you think if your primary school says it requires volunteers to teach swimming?

(191 Posts)
daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:05:54

Just that really. Our primary school says that swimming lessons may have to be cancelled if they don't get enough volunteers to help. I know they have to teach this, as it is part of the national curriculum, although I know the guidelines do not stipulate much in terms of how many lessons they are supposed to teach. I do not like the emotional blackmail aspect though...what do you think?

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 12-Apr-13 20:11:33

I would have thought it wasn't volunteers to teach they needed but to assist and supervise changing, travel to the pool etc.

spanieleyes Fri 12-Apr-13 20:13:02

If they were asking for volunteers to TEACH swimming I would be up in arms, if they wanted volunteers to help with swimming I would offer! All the teachers at my school are also trained swimming instructors, a 3 day course every year. We also have trained lifeguards ( similar training) and parent helpers-some who help the littlies change for swimming and one or two who go in the water with the ones that are worried/insecure in the water on their own-who are not trained but are given basic instructions by the lifeguard ( ie if the whistle blows leave the pool and let the lifeguard in!) There is NO WAY untrained volunteers should be teaching swimming.

daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:15:35

No travelling as our school has their own pool. Parent volunteers also assist the (poolside) instructor by acting as assistants in the pool. They also help with changing etc.

TheOldestCat Fri 12-Apr-13 20:19:15

I would think (and have done as our school asks for the same): "I wish I could help but I work and on the days I don't work I don't have anyone to have my three-year-old so it's a no go, but I WILL help when he's at school".

My friend helped out last year and it's like Pictures says - it's to help the children get changed and go to and from the pool rather than as lifeguards. They also help the children who are nervous.

Pozzled Fri 12-Apr-13 20:20:16

Swimming is part of the national curriculum, but it can be a right pita for many schools. If you don't have a pool within walking distance, the transport costs are high. Each class needs at least two adults accompanying them, and the class usually misses around 90 minutes of lesson time for a 30 minute swimming lesson. If you take qualified and experienced TAs to help supervise, it can be a real waste of their time when they could be helping with learning elsewhere.

So I can understand a school wanting to strongly encourage volunteers. I don't think they should actually threaten to stop swimming, though.

MilkRunningOutAgain Fri 12-Apr-13 20:21:31

Our school does this too. For the yr r kids they have a max of 12 kids in the pool with at least 3 helpers in the water and the teacher on the side and the teacher does the actual teaching.. I volunteer each summer a long as they do swimming on a Monday which is my non - working day. I help the kids get ready for swimming, the girls all seem to have trouble with their swimming hats, help in the water with swimming and help them get dressed. Having a few helpers speeds it all up a lot, 4 year olds take for ever getting dressed and even the older ones get ready a lot quicker with some supervision rather than left to their own devices.

All the schools locally do this too, I thought it was common. If you are surprised by it, perhaps not.

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 20:22:25

Some councils are saying there must be 1 adult per 2 young children in the pool I wonder if this is what is happening. It's not to teach swimming

Pozzled Fri 12-Apr-13 20:23:15

X-post. They want parent volunteers to go in the pool with the children? That sounds like a REALLY bad idea to me in terms of laying themselves open to allegations.

spanieleyes Fri 12-Apr-13 20:23:52

Well that's what our parent volunteers do. Who else do you think should do it? Teaching assistants could but they would presumably be better off in the classroom supporting children/running intervention groups/1;1 work with children who need help etc. Teachers could but they are presumably teaching! Our PTFA organise the volunteer rota for our pool, no one really minds and we have plenty of volunteers as most parents appreciate that keeping a school pool is an expensive and time consuming business for a primary school but it's an asset well worth supporting.

daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:24:28

Why is helping to teach swimming a waste of TAs time when it is a National Curriculum subject?

spanieleyes Fri 12-Apr-13 20:26:33

( Sorry, that was to daftdame rather than pozzled!)

daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:27:52

The class teacher generally does not stay with the class, there is a qualified instructor who works for the school. Volunteers do help in the water.

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 20:27:57

because essentially they will be standing around albeit in the swimming pool

spanieleyes Fri 12-Apr-13 20:28:42

Because the instructor/teacher is teaching the children, the helpers are doing just that, helping! It's not a skilled job whereas delivering interventions/1;1 support is, So if parents can, and do volunteer, the TA's can carry on with what they do best, support the children that need it.

daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:30:55

No they assist the teaching....directing the positioning in the water etc.

Pozzled Fri 12-Apr-13 20:31:04

Helping to teach it wouldn't be, if a TA were qualified and/or experienced enough to teach swimming, then I'd think it an excellent use of their time.

My experience of school swimming lessons is at least 10-15 minutes travel time, 10 minutes for changing before and after, and a 30 minute lesson. During the lesson both class teacher and TA sat around doing nothing- lesson was taken by a teacher provided by the pool. So both teacher and TA were just performinga basic supervision role. Huge waste of their skills.

Obviously the situation you describe is different though, OP.

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 20:32:10

that isn't teaching it's helping the instructor by following instructions

daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:33:27

But my point is untrained parent volunteers have been expected to assist in the water.

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 20:35:27

Do you need training to follow the instructors instructions?

daftdame Fri 12-Apr-13 20:37:23

No not to follow instructions but to help a child follow instructions in swimming. There are courses available in exactly this subject. Safe handling etc is just one point to consider.

Pozzled Fri 12-Apr-13 20:38:51

Yes, going back to the OP, I don't think it's a good idea to have parent volunteers in the water. If they have a school pool, is there no way of making the groups small enough so that they don't need anyone other than the instructor? My DD1 is in reception, and there are 8 children in her public swimming lessons.

spanieleyes Fri 12-Apr-13 20:40:23

But the TA's aren't trained swimming instructors are they? So they would be in a similar position to a parent volunteer, helping the instructor by following his/her instructions and repeating them to the children. Our TA's are trained lifeguards, so one will sometimes be on duty at the pool with the instructor ( although teachers can and do teach too) and this is a role that we wouldn't expect a parent volunteer to undertake unless they too were lifeguard trained ( and some are!) But pool helpers are just that, untrained volunteers.

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 20:40:38

You shouldn't be handling children

spanieleyes Fri 12-Apr-13 20:41:48

All our parent volunteers are CRB cleared too.

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