School Swimming Scandal?
Posted: Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:17
The Swim Group Review of Curriculum Swimming & Water Safety Lessons is published today and makes pretty grim reading once again on the stats for children able to swim by the end of year 6 - a curriculum requirement!
The report found that almost a third of (31%) of Year 6 pupils will finish school for the summer without being able to swim and without basic water safety skills. This is despite BOTH being stated within the national curriculum. I can't imagine any other statistic or subject within the national curriculum where Ministers and officials would accept at a 31% failure rate. Especially when swimming and water safety can literally be a matter of life and death as we still see too many drownings each year.
Quite rightly the report makes some sound recommendations about standards and extra resources for top-up lessons, teacher training and pool time. However, we are confident the biggest change would come if Ministers accept the need to ask schools to monitor their level of attainment for Year 6 pupils and were asked to report on them as they do other curriculum requirements. Sadly at present within the school system "what gets measured gets done." We are seeing this across school sport and PE. The emphasis on the core subjects is squeezing out PE and sport and KS4 and the Primary PE premium is also insufficiently measured so poor levels of teaching are overlooked. All of the recommendations are important as a package but if Heads and Governors don't feel this is important for Ministers, DfE & OFSTED then it won't be a priority.
We know from experience since the cuts to the School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) there has been an ideological aversion to too much central interference in schools. Although most schools and teachers would laugh at this assertion. We live in a period of Free Schools dominance where local decision making is all empowering. But at what cost? As we argue elsewhere we feel the PE Premium will sadly be seen an a missed opportunity to create physically active and literate children. The ideological barrier to adding the burden of asking schools if they have met this curriculum requirement - when they ask about all others - does seem short sighted and we hope the new Ministerial team will listen to the helpful suggestions in the report.
If Government doesn't respond positively to this report there is a real danger we will create a future generation unable to swim - ironically on an island nation!