Has anyone's child actually ever learned to swim during school lessons?

(42 Posts)
Pipistrella Thu 28-Jan-16 07:33:57

I have an 8yo child who cannot yet swim. I'm intending to pay for one to one lessons when the weather is warmer so that he can properly learn to swim, just like I did with his older brother, who can now swim.

Meanwhile the school want him to go to a weekly lesson in a group, as it's part of the national curriculum apparently, but we still have to pay for it to make it possible (?)

I don't want him to go. For a few years now during these token sessions he has splashed around, not learned to swim, been threatened by the instructor that if he starts to drown, they won't help him, and been thoroughly disheartened and put off.

I don't think there's any way at all that he will actually learn to swim, or in fact anything useful at all, during these sessions.

I just wondered if it did teach anyone's child to swim or if it's basically a bit of practice for those who already can, while doing those who can't no favours at all.
Also - has anyone successfully withdrawn their child from school swimming? I'm not sure what my rights are considering there is a consent form involved. Could I just not sign it?

AuditAngel Thu 28-Jan-16 07:40:31

Mine could already swim by the time they had their lessons.

2 points here, 1 I don't think you can be forced to pay for the lessons (although I did) and 2 the instructors should not be saying they would let him drown, that won't exactly encourage him. Speak to your school.

OneBiscuitAtATime Thu 28-Jan-16 07:42:16

I learned to swim at school, many many years ago now though.

ghostspirit Thu 28-Jan-16 07:43:51

my now 13 year old learned to swim with the school. hes quite a good swimmer. he used to go up the local pool with the class once a week. then they stop going at a certain year but i forget what year it is.

its changed a bit now. there is a pool in the school and kids from year one up to year 4 use the pool. year 5 go to the local pool. considering my 8 year old has been swimming with the school since year 1 every week. hes not that good swimmer.

our swimming for both local pool and school pool are both free

Pipistrella Thu 28-Jan-16 07:54:17

Thanks, it's encouraging to know that children can learn to swim this way. I don't hold out much hope for ds2, sadly, as he is nervous of the water and physically quite tense so I don't think it's going to work with him.

But at least if some children can, it's not completely pointless.

I just feel awful for him that he's standing there on one foot for half an hour, freezing cold, and unhappy - and I think if it is part of the curriculum then the rules ought to be clearer.

What would happen if I just refused to sign? Would he be allowed to sit and read a book, or would I get into trouble, or be fined or something?

I'd not mind if he could swim already but it's not going to do him any good right now, I'm certain of that, plus he always ends up with a cold afterwards which doesn't help at this time of year.

LineyReborn Thu 28-Jan-16 07:56:59

No, mine learned to swim through other means.

They were supposed to have a term of lessons at primary but they were frequently cancelled.

DelphiniumBlue Thu 28-Jan-16 07:58:47

I used to escort classes of children to the swimming pool, and lots of them learned how to swim. However, its not a particularly nice environment for the nervous. It is part of the curriculum, and if that is the case, you can't be forced to pay.

Pipistrella Thu 28-Jan-16 08:02:52

I'm just amazed that children are actually learning to swim in this way. The instruction ds2 has had has been really lacking - no one gets in the water to help, they just stand on the side shouting instructions.

He's been going since year one and is now in year four and it's just not happening.

I think there was something about making a contribution if you can't afford the money, but the school 'relies heavily' on donations. What if no one paid?

That's aside from the issue of consent. I don't want to give my consent for this, so what do they do if I won't sign the form?

JenEric Thu 28-Jan-16 08:04:25

Mine both did. They do two terms of lessons, one in end of year three and one in start of year four. If they still can't swim after that they go back with the new year threes the next term.

Mine both learnt within the two terms but a handful of kid in my eldests class did three extra lessons with the year threes to master it.

JenEric Thu 28-Jan-16 08:04:59

I've never paid btw

exLtEveDallas Thu 28-Jan-16 08:05:23

You are more likely to be paying for the transport there, than the actual swimming.

At our school the payment goes towards the transport, the swimming instructor and the lifeguards - the time actually in the pool (the hire) is paid for out of school funds. Two years ago it was cheaper because we had 2 TAs with senior lifeguarding quals, so we didn't have to use the sports centre employees.

This year there is one child whose parents have forbidden him to take part. He spends an hour each week in the class below because there is nothing else for him to do - his teacher sets work for that hour, generally reading and a worksheet to complete.

exexpat Thu 28-Jan-16 08:06:24

DS left year 6 after a couple of years of school 'swimming lessons' officially unable to swim 25m. In the first term of year 7, after two or three 30-minute lessons, shared with a friend, with a private swimming coach, he was swimming 100m and actually enjoying it.

I presume some schools must use competent swimming coaches for their lessons, but at DS's school it was just a class teacher at the side of the pool yelling at them. Complete waste of time. The only good thing was that the pool was within walking distance of the school so at least we weren't also forced to waste money on coach hire.

jelliebelly Thu 28-Jan-16 08:11:34

Both of mine could swim before they started going with school. Why wait until the warmer weather for 121 lessons - the sooner he can swim the better surely then he'll enjoy going with school too instead of it making him miserable. Both of mine loved going with their school friends.

Pipistrella Thu 28-Jan-16 08:17:17

It sounds like the level of serious instruction varies with the school, doesn't it? Like some schools actually focus on really teaching the children while some, as you say, don't even used trained instructors.

I think ours is just the teachers.

I want to wait for the warmer weather as basically I think it's less hard work being wet and cold when it's nice outside, and if he's sensitive to the chlorine he'll be more likely to get colds if it's the cold season anyway...I'm not sure, I just think he will enjoy it more in the summer. I would

Thank you very much for the replies btw.

yomellamoHelly Thu 28-Jan-16 08:27:06

In primary my ds got one term of lessons at 20 minutes a turn. 3 had never been in a pool before and one of those was water-phobic. No-one learnt anything new. We also had to pay (to cover the insurance!).

Jinglebells99 Thu 28-Jan-16 08:29:52

My children are both excellent swimmers but they had group lessons at the local pool every week for years and sometimes individual lessons too and could already swim really well by the time school lessons came up. The group lessons at the pool were in groups of about 8. However most of the children in the beginner groups are aged about 4 years and they work their way up the levels each term. I'm not sure why you are waiting for warmer weather unless the pool is an outdoor one? I think the school lessons are ok but I wouldn't rely on them to teach my child to swim. At the local pool, swimming lessons are held throughout the year, compared to just 10 school lessons once a year. I think my children had swimming lessons once a week for about 6 years. They worked through the levels, then challenges.

SpottyTeacakes Thu 28-Jan-16 08:47:12

Dd's only in year one but her school has its own pool. She didn't seem to be improving much (they only do it from May to end of September) so she now has swimming lessons once a week which I pay for. I've no doubt that she would learn to swim but probably only a doggy paddle standard if only doing it at school! They do swim twice a week at school though and then there's after school swimming available for £1 and it's open in the holidays too.

Tiggles Thu 28-Jan-16 08:49:49

Both my boys have learnt to swim through school, they start lessons in year 3. It took DS1 until year 6, but DS2 has been learning for a year in school and can now swim. This difference could be down to them as individuals or that when DS1 was learning they went for half a term, then stopped for half a term whilst the other class went etc, whereas with DS2 they alternate weekly throughout the school year.
Donations are to cover the transport as swimming is covered in the national curriculum so has to be funded by the school.

Happymummy007 Thu 28-Jan-16 09:23:42

My DD would never have learnt at school. She was very, very nervous of the water, and so we took her to a local, private swimming school about 6 months before a trip to Florida - the reasoning was that if Mickey Mouse can swim, so can you. They were incredibly patient with her and now, 3 years on, she's a much better swimmer than I am.

I don't have any faith whatsoever in swimming lessons if your school doesn't have a pool, or if they can't swim before they start. I honestly believe a good instructor needs to get into the pool with a child who can't swim at all, simply to give them confidence. And this doesn't seem to happen in schools.

ReallyTired Thu 28-Jan-16 09:25:57

Different schools deliver the swimming requirement of the national curriculum in different ways. Dd's school gives the children two terms of swimming lessons in year 5. They have less swimming than some schools, but they are in smaller groups. The school pays for enough instructors to have ratios of 1 to 10 and a year group is split into 4 classes. The top group might have 20 children and be in the diving pit where as a beginner's group might have 12 children wiht a swimming teacher and TA.

What is your definition of being able to swim? Barring special needs, almost of the children at dd's school learn to float and are able to get themselves to the side by the end of the year. A child who is a non swimmer at the start of the year might be able to manage 5 or metres at the end of the year.

I think a major issue is the sheer range of ablity. There might children who have never been to a swimming pool and a child who swims for county in the same school.

Artandco Thu 28-Jan-16 09:30:07

I don't think they swim. My 5 year old swims weekly with school. He is a confident swimmer who swims 3+ times a week with me out of school. He can swim a mile at a time.
He says school swimming is just splashing and the whole class use a pool that's only past his waist in height, so basically a large paddling pool.
He likes it as it's basically a 45 mins glorified bath with friends.

Pipistrella Thu 28-Jan-16 12:28:01

Well, I've tried two different pools for private tuition and both are really booked up. It's going to be a few weeks at least before he can even start, if someone is available then, and if not, it won't be until June.

At least we're on the waiting list so thanks for making me do something!

A glorified bath is exactly what normally happens IME. He's learned to sort of float, I think, but last year he was told to get across the pool in any way he could and he'd get a five metres badge. hmm

There might be standards they're supposed to achieve but going about it by basically saying they can swim when they patently can't, isn't helpful, surely!

SpottyTeacakes Thu 28-Jan-16 12:44:42

Our private pool has a wait of two months. It was sixteen weeks when I signed dd up but actually a place came up much quicker. She loves it though and gets a certificate at each stage. I hate it as its a social meeting place for many of the mums and I don't know any of them! blush

Artandco Thu 28-Jan-16 12:53:06

Wouldn't it be easier for you to teach him?

Mine swim every other night roughly with Dh or I. Hence both good swimmer from 3 years. We swim 6.45-7.30pm when we can

Pipistrella Thu 28-Jan-16 13:01:56

I'd feel the same Spotty! smile but I think I'll just keep out of the way.

Art&Co, I love the sound of your arrangement but no, it wouldn't be easier for me. No DH for a start and I have a three year old and a twelve year old as well. Plus I can't swim very well myself, (slow, short distances) and my efforts to teach ds1 were pretty hopeless.

I'd rather they were taught by someone who knows what they are doing and can give them proper one to one attention. There's no way I could manage ds3 as well as teaching ds2 to swim.

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