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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.

jellycat Thu 23-May-13 10:52:17

Our school does 10 half hour lessons in the summer term of year 5 and that's it. My 2 dc still have private lessons at the moment (they are 8 and 11).

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 10:52:27

they do 3 consecutive terms in our school I think, split over 2 years. competent swimmers don't go every week, think they go every fortnight.

my children don't have private lessons, we haven't got that kind of spare money but hubby learned in the sea/the paddle pools so we are doing that kind of water exposure with them until they are old enough for school lessons. if they don't learn in school then we will have to pay for a concentrated learn to swim thing and hope for the best, we can't afford to pay for it for years. last summer we did teach the eldest how to tread water as I felt at least that would help keep her head above the water even if she can't swim and also to not fear the water so not to panic as those are probably the 2 most important bits for me in an emergency. hubby and I are both very strong swimmers so we will do our best to help them learn.

noramum Thu 23-May-13 10:56:46

DD, not yet 6, is still in Infant where no swimming is offered.

But: we went swimming with her, lesson, from 6 months with a break between 20 months and 3 years due to her swim teacher closing the school she attended.

From 3 years onwards she again attended weekly, lessons are with a ration 1 teacher to max 4 children, and can now swim freely. We see swimming as a life skill like cycling or walking so there was never the question of NOT sending her.

Anybody thinking logically should realise that you can't teach a group of over 30 children to swim. Even our really bad leisure center has groups of 10 children per teacher.

Scruffey Thu 23-May-13 11:02:40

My dc go swimming with school x1 per week. Really I see that as a bit of a "maintenance" swim and if that was all there was, they wouldn't be good swimmers.

I do pay for them to have lessons outside school, each of them is in a group with 6-8 kids. The big difference is that these 6-8 kids will all be a very similar standard and the swimming teacher can work so much more effectively because of this. At ds's school swimming class, they vary from kids who cannot swim and are pretty afraid of the water to kids who can swim all stokes well for hundreds of metres. Same with my dd's school class - some will scream at the sight of water, some competent up to 50-100m.

If you stop swimming when young child can do 25m, they will actually forget how to swim so this isn't a solution IMO.

I don't think there is enough money for school swimming so it isn't effective. I wonder if the money could be more effectively spent elsewhere.

DewDr0p Thu 23-May-13 11:02:48

Our school also does 1/2 hr weekly swimming lessons for 3 consecutive terms (second half of yr3 and first half of yr4)

They are split into 3 groups: non swimmers and then two different ability groups for the swimmers.

It's much better than swimming was when I was at school which frankly was a waste of time if you couldn't already swim hmm My dcs have swimming lessons anyway but it really brought dc1 on swimming twice a week and one of his classmates overcame a real fear of water (previously refused to get in, now enjoying swimming) so there were definite benefits.

It takes a lot of time though with travel/changing time before and after and is also expensive with staff ratios to accompany them etc.

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 11:08:19

Sommink can I pick your brains. What would you recommend in the way of lessons, I know that our local pool does do individual or 2 children classes, obviously costs more but would something like that be more worthwhile in the sense that it is concentrated on just them so in general would you expect them to learn quicker? As I say we just don't have the money for term after term of swimming but perhaps a more intensive course that would be shorter if it produced the results more quickly would be more suitable for us?

RueDeWakening Thu 23-May-13 11:13:09

DD is in yr 1 and doesn't do swimming with school yet. Currently only year 5 have 1 term of swimming lessons each year. It costs almost as much as private group lessons as parents have to pay for coach travel and pool entry. I don't know what the ratio of adults to kids in the pool is.

I'm paying for DD to have private lessons and will do until she finishes primary school. DS1 & 2 will have the same when they're old enough - DS will probably start lessons in September as he's school nursery age. Swimming is the only activity I consider mandatory for them all and that's mostly because my parents live abroad and have a pool in their garden so when we visit it's really a safety issue as much as anything else. At just turned 6, DD is working on her 25 m badge now, and if she doesn't have it by the end of term she'll get it before Christmas.

cathers Thu 23-May-13 11:19:44

Our school doesn't provide swimming lessons. I'm not convinced they should either- I always considered a parental responsibility rather than schools.
Our LA pool charges £3.20 per lesson with a max of 8 per group. Excellent value and within the realms of affordability.

Our school waits till year 5, then questionnaires the parents and 'picks up the tab' for intensive lessons over a term for those whose kids cannot swim by then. Research suggests that this is a more cost effective way of learning to swim rather than in and out of odd lesson over a lengthy period of time. And usually only a few children cannot swim by that age.

iseenodust Thu 23-May-13 11:28:28

DS is Yr4 and has never had a school swimming lesson. I think they go in Yr5 but not weekly for the whole year. We've sent him to lessons at the local pool because we feel it's such an important skill. He stopped when he could do multiple lengths in all 3 strokes & tumble turns.

ShadeofViolet Thu 23-May-13 11:34:15

In our school children in years 3 and 4 do weekly swimming lessons for 12 weeks of the school year.

When I was growing up we had a outside swimming pool onsite. We did daily swimming lessons for the last 6 weeks of the school year from reception to year 6. Unfortunately the pool is now a basketball court sad.

I have to say that I dont really think its a schools responsibility to teach children to swim. I think that should come down to the parents.

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 11:39:12

I agree it is a parents responsibility not the school but if I am going to have to pay for my children to have lessons through school anyway then I don't really be wanting to pay for them out of school as well if that makes sense. If I could choose and say through school or privately then I would go privately but as school is compulsory then...

MrsMelons Thu 23-May-13 11:41:37

If your child is 4+ you could probably pay for a term or two and they would be able to swim at the end of it or at least well enough to 'save' themselves, the ratios are usually only 1:4. Probably much better than relying on the school to do it.

MrsMelons Thu 23-May-13 11:43:54

The trouble is most schools don't start swimming lessons till at least Y3, I think that is quite late to start swimming.

My Y2 DS doesn't have swimming lessons any more as he has gone as far as he can in the smallish pool he had lessons in, the bigger pools are out of the city and we can't get there at the right times but he can swim well enough for holidays/the sea etc. I wouldn't be that keen to pay for school lessons as well as private either though.

piprabbit Thu 23-May-13 11:51:38

I think the OPs original question is the wrong way round for my family.
We don't go private 'on top' of the school lessons, we go private and then the school lessons are 'on top' of that. I expect nothing from the school lessons beyond increased independence (getting themselves changed in a short time frame, remembering all their clothes and belongings etc.) and I haven't been disappointed.

My DCs school does swimming for one term in Y2 and 3 terms in Y3 - and that is all.

BirdyBedtime Thu 23-May-13 11:52:29

DD is in P3 (YR2 equiv in Scotland) and has not had any swimming at school. It's an infants and I know they get some swimming in P4 at the middle school. It's too late in my opinion. If kids have had no lessons by then it's probably a struggle to get them to put their faces in the water etc.

My DH can't swim very well and had very strong views about the DCs learning so we started with the adult and baby classes with DD about 7.5 years ago and have progressed. She's now in Stroke Development doing 25 m lengths in all strokes, diving etc and is a very confident swimmer. I'm not sure what she'll do in the school lessons. DS is in pre-school and learning basics and confidence, and we'll continue through the system with him too.

It is difficult in terms of cost as I dread to think how much we've spent over the years. For me it has been money well spend but if you're on a tight budget lessons are probably out of reach and so I think schools should do more.

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 11:57:42

I might do that Mrs Melons. thanks

redskyatnight Thu 23-May-13 12:06:32

DS's school do no swimming at all (so interesting to read that this is compulsory).

The headteacher's reasoning is that the cost of the coach (which he would have to ask parents to fund through "voluntary" contributions is more than the cost of private swimming lessons.

I pay for my DC to have private group lessons, but there are plenty of parents that can't afford it and whose children leave primary school unable to swim.

learnandsay Thu 23-May-13 12:44:45

We used to have a brilliant swimming teacher who had our daughter swimming a width independently at three. Then we moved her to another pool with a different teacher who made her wear arm bands and now she has forgotten how to swim.

cory Thu 23-May-13 13:37:53

Mine had no lessons at all since they both passed the initial test of being able to swim the width of the pool, a distance of some 25 metres. You'd be lucky if that saved your life in an emergency hmm

dc have both learnt to swim independently of school.

When I was a child in Sweden, 200 metres was the prescribed distance for being considered to be able to swim at all. Swimming lessons were very much about life-saving, not about style or speed. So we all learnt to pick up inanimate objects from the bottom of the pool, tug little brothers backwards and forwards on their backs. We learnt breastroke, backstroke and treading water because they were considered essential in emergencies. And did lenghts under water to make sure we could cope with not being able to emerge immediately. I am still very confident around water. But it was all non-competitive, even at higher levels.

TeenAndTween Thu 23-May-13 13:38:41

Our school does swimming once a week for 6 weeks in year 4, then 'catch up swimming' after SATs for y6s who don't yet meet the requirements.

tbh they hope that kick starting in y4 for those not yet swimming will encourage parents to take their children and build up the skill.

They walk to and from the pool.

When DD1 had her lessons about half the class were non swimmers at the start.

I understand about only taking the non swimmers to save money, but it seems a bit unfair. Everywhere else in the curriculum the better ones get to be stretched, so why should children miss out just because they can swim already? In particular, my DD2 is bottom half of class for everything academic and sporty, but I am looking forward to her having her swimming lessons as this is one area where she is likely to be one of the best in the class, so it will be good for her self-esteem.

MrsMaryCooper Thu 23-May-13 13:40:22

None. He has private swimming lessons on a Saturday. The school does have a pool though.

Mominatrix Thu 23-May-13 13:55:29

DS1's school has swimming one period a week for 3 half terms (first half of each of the three terms). Additionally, there are 1.5 hour swimming sessions afterschool for those needing improvement and for those who are keen on swimming, there are three 1.5 hour afterschool sessions and 3 lunch period (about 40 minute) sessions. All of these sessions are free of charge. However, this is a private school with a swimming pool on site.

His pre-prep had swimming once a week for one term. Like piprabbit, I always viewed these sessions as an addition to what I did with him. I have taken both my children into the pool from the age of 6 months at least once a week, and started private swimming lessons at the age of 3 years old. The minimum standard of 25 meters is shockingly low, and would not be enough for me to consider children water safe. The Swedish standard makes sense to me, and is a better standard than the one from the government website.

daftdame Thu 23-May-13 14:13:10

I think unless you got the swimming attainment figures of each primary school are recorded and published nationally (as with SATs) then schools probably will put resourcing swimming quite low down on the agenda.

Our school offers more than a lots of schools. Swimming lessons from Reception, but then they have their own pool. Having swimming from Reception allows them to ask all the parents for a monetary voluntary contribution and to volunteer help (in the water and to help children get changed). Unless they receive enough of both they state that swimming lessons will be cancelled.

I still don't think the quality of the lessons is the same as some that you can buy (due to group sizes) but it does act as 'top up' practice. In theory I suppose they could share the pool and only have the later years doing lessons, it would take the pressure off parents in terms of time and resources. It is a matter of weighing up how valuable the lower year's lessons are against the parent's views and the management aspect of sharing a pool.

Most people I know buy their children private lessons but I know not all people can. Children will still get lessons at school if their parents cannot afford them.

Mississippimudpie Thu 23-May-13 14:52:05

My children stated swimming lessons in reception class and go weekly to the local pool until they leave in year 6. Ds has just got his 600 meter swimming award year 4 and dd 250 meters year 3. They are taught by the pools swimming instructors in groups of ten. I think their swim classes are great.

heirraising Thu 23-May-13 14:53:50

This is how I do it

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