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Do you pay for school swimming lessons?

(77 Posts)
Wigeon Tue 15-Sep-15 12:45:59

DD1 has just started in Y3 and the school charges £48 a term for school swimming lessons, to cover the cost of the coach and swimming teacher. They are emphasising that this is a compulsory part of the national curriculum, but their budget doesn't stretch to funding it.

There seems to be a point of principle here - are school budgets really so tight that schools can't afford to fund all the compulsory elements of the curriculum? There would be an outcry if parents were asked to fund part of teacher's salaries, or the caretakers' brooms, or to buy a new noticeboard for the staffroom, which are other essential elements of running a school. When asked, the HT said that if parents didn't pay for the swimming lessons, she'd have to ask them to pay for something else like textbooks.

I know that not all parents do cough up (on principle, not because of poverty), and so there's an additional issue that those that do are subsidising those that don't. Or the school pays for some people - in which case why can't they pay for all?

I don't mind paying at all for extra trips, or end of term treats etc etc, but am pretty annoyed about paying for something which is a core part of the school's responsibility to deliver.

I want to write to someone (the local authority? The local MP?) to make the point that it appears schools are so badly underfunded that they can't afford to pay for compulsory elements of what they are expected to do.

So, does your school charge for swimming lesson? How much? What justification have they given? And are you happy to pay?

ruddynorah Tue 15-Sep-15 12:48:14

Here it's done in year 4 and parents pay nothing. I'm in west Yorkshire, Kirklees council.

Buttercup27 Tue 15-Sep-15 12:49:24

To answer some of your questions -
Yes some schools really don't have the budget (ours dont) BUT payment is not compulsory. Schools are not allowed to charge for curriculum subjects. They can ask for contributions for transport but again it is not compulsory.
Our pta help to fund our swimming.

Misnomer Tue 15-Sep-15 12:49:51

We are given a letter that has three options: a £5 donation, another amount or no contribution. It's left up to us. I usually pay the suggested amount but given the amount you are being charged I feel a bit mean! The children swim at the pool in the adjacent secondary school so maybe that helps keep costs down.

starlight2007 Tue 15-Sep-15 12:55:00

We weren't asked when my Ds did swimming. We can walk up to swimming, however we were told it cost £3,000 a year...

lifesalongsong Tue 15-Sep-15 12:58:47

I paid for swimming lessons, it's expensive to hire a bus, hire the pool, pay for the instructors and if the school had to pay they would need to cut something else.

Personally I think school swimming lessons are a waste of time but as I can afford to pay I'd rather do that than put something academic at risk.

In an ideal world the government would fund schools for everything they need to do but that's just not the reality for a lot of schools

littleducks Tue 15-Sep-15 12:59:25

No we don't pay it is considered a PE lesson.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Tue 15-Sep-15 13:02:42

No we pay nothing, PTA cake sales etc funds the coach hire.

Barbeasty Tue 15-Sep-15 13:05:57

Our school asked for just under £40 for swimming this term, and the children walk to the pool. They said it covers hire of the pool, 3 teachers and lifeguard.

I don't mind paying, we can afford it and DD loves swimming. I'd hate to think of people stretching themselves though.

PfftTheMagicDraco Tue 15-Sep-15 13:09:11

We were told to pay. We were told it was compulsory. I was unhappy as I know it isn't compulsory.

I didn't pay (and seemed to manage to avoid the reminder letters and phone calls that other parents seemed to get). I understand the school have no choice but to take them swimming, and it costs them. But at the same time, I can't help but think school swimming is a waste of time and effort and money. BY the time they've got there, got changed and left time to do the same in reverse, they get 20m in the pool. In large groups. :/

TheDrugsWorkABitTooWellThanks Tue 15-Sep-15 13:10:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Millymollymama Tue 15-Sep-15 13:19:49

Schools used to receive a small sum of money to spend on swimming lessons. I think this has now disappeared and Sharon Davies was talking about this recently because children whose parents do not teach them to swim are left vulnerable and children DO die every year because they cannot swim. The funding used to be for one year only so frequently it was not the whole school that went swimming. If you just take the children who cannot swim, this might be seen as divisive . Schools approach this in different ways now and parents have very divided views on it. Personally I think it is a good idea for a term or two as part of the PE curriculum in primary school. It is expensive though and clearly someone has to pay. I think parents can be asked to pay for transport but not the lesson if it is part of the curriculum. This is no doubt contributing to the closure of pools around the country. You can't have it all.

TeenAndTween Tue 15-Sep-15 13:21:12

Our school gets 8 x 1hr lessons usually in year 4.
They walk there and back, takes the whole afternoon.
No charge.

My DD could swim fine already, but it was great for her fitness and for her self-esteem as she finally had something she was near the top of the class in.

A number of the could-barely swim children made great progress.

hibbleddible Tue 15-Sep-15 13:25:03

Yes, schools should be better funded.

But if you don't pay, the funds will just have to be taken away from other areas, which means that the children will lose out.

If you can afford to pay then you should.

deepdarkwood Tue 15-Sep-15 13:25:14

Our school does lessons for iirc one term in y5 - only for those who don't have a certificate for 25m, or pass an assessment. Parents are asked to pay (coach hire + lesson teaching) - don't think it's obligatory but I don't removed the wording encouraging opting opt!

Wigeon Tue 15-Sep-15 14:05:14

I can afford it and I have paid (although DD can swim and we have paid for her to do separate lessons outside school already, but that's our choice).

How are the schools which don't pay managing to afford it? What are they cutting back on in other areas, or do they manage their budgets better, or are they better funded somehow? It's very funny that some schools charge what I imagine is the whole cost, some charge a token amount, and some charge nothing.

starlight2007 Tue 15-Sep-15 14:14:39

Our school did 2 terms, then those who could swim 25 meters were pulled.. I think it was quite sad the amount of kids in our year who couldn't swim..Many who were in dance comps, played in various football teams but left it down to the school to teach their kids to swim.

I do realise that access in some parts of the country are difficult but it is 2 minutes walk from our school.

angelcake20 Tue 15-Sep-15 14:20:51

£70 a term here (yr3), up from £50 4 years ago. This covers coach and instruction. There have been big problems with it for years as many parents have refused to pay (on principle - it's quite a well-off area) and school has regularly threatened that it will be stopped. School says it can't afford it without most parents paying. Parents are split between those who think it a waste of time as DC can swim and those who think it's great as they do a lot of survival and water skills. This year they have compromised; each class will do one term, rather than a year, and anyone who hasn't passed the 25m gets to go for the third term.

Cedar03 Tue 15-Sep-15 14:53:19

It is part of the national curriculum and they can't force you to pay for it. Every child is supposed to be able to swim 25 metres by the time they leave primary school.

We pay £3 per week - well we're asked to contribute that. So I know some parents won't pay. The PTA help to fund the cost of the coach to get there and back. In the past every year in the school has had a few weeks of swimming but this year they are changing it and focusing on Years 3 and 4 where children will go for longer and then have a chance to progress. The few weeks meant some of the non swimmers spent one lesson being coaxed into the pool, had about three lessons and then one week of playing. Then they didn't go swimming for an entire year because they never go any other time. So hopefully this way all children will get more out of it.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Tue 15-Sep-15 15:11:06

We do it throughout yr 2 and yr 3, as I said all funded by the PTA. We are a one-form entry school so it's just two classes a week needing funding (they may even take them all at once).

I believe the head teacher and one other have done swim teacher qualifications and are in the pool, so that's another cost saved.

Flossieflower01 Tue 15-Sep-15 15:19:30

Ours go every other half term in juniors (3/4s and 5/6s alternately). It's £1.50 per week contribution to the coach, school pays for the teaching and lifeguards.

LittleMissGreen Tue 15-Sep-15 15:27:08

We are not allowed to charge for the swimming lesson (Wales) as it is part of the national curriculum but cost of transport can be covered by the parents. We request a donation. Obviously if you happen to be at a school within walking distance of a swimming pool you therefore can't make any charge.

sliceofsoup Tue 15-Sep-15 15:33:08

I don't think our school charges. Swimming is for P6 and 7 and P5 in the summer term. (NI)

Tbh I wouldn't be paying again. I would make a contribution to the bus hire, but no way would I be paying £48. I am paying £80 per term currently for the council run lessons. If DD1 can't swim with those by the time she gets to P6 (shes in P2 now) then I doubt the crappy school lessons will teach her.

I learnt to swim at age 6, but I remember doing swimming in the first year of high school and there were 5 girls who couldn't swim at all. They were in the learner pool for the entire year. How on earth they got to 12 years of age without learning is beyond me. shock

MirandaWest Tue 15-Sep-15 15:36:42

Here it's one term in year 3 and there is no charge. I can't remember if the PTA pays for the coach and the lessons themselves are free or if the PTA pays for everything but either way we didn't have to pay.

DebbieFiderer Tue 15-Sep-15 15:51:47

Our school has its own pool and we still have to pay. Summer term only and it is less than £20, and pays for either a swimming teacher or upkeep of the pool, depending on which letter you believe hmm. Not compulsory as such, but if they don't pay they can't swim. Not sure how the are going to manage the national curriculum aspect but possibly by just letting them swim for free in one year group as the only thing they have to do is ensure that each child can swim 25m by the time they leave primary.

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