A new drive to teach children to swim

PUBLISHED: 07:53 14 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 22 October 2010


A Norfolk school is offering intensive daily swimming lessons for 11-year-old non-swimmers under a £5.5m Government scheme unveiled yesterday.

A Norfolk school is offering intensive daily swimming lessons for 11-year-old non-swimmers under a £5.5m Govern-ment scheme unveiled yesterday.

Schools Minister Jim Knight announced the move in a bid to help the 17 pc of 11 year olds nationally who are unable to swim 25 metres - an average pool length - despite compulsory lessons at primary school level.

King Edward VII School at King's Lynn is one of the first schools in the region to opt into the scheme for this school year and is currently organising to take up to 100 pupils from across west Norfolk for special swimming tuition.

The pupils from schools across the west of the county will be given half an hour's swimming coaching every day for two weeks just before the end of term, with five sessions taking place each day at the school.

The school decided to take part in the scheme rather than opt out to the next school year because of its special sports college status and its long- established membership of the School Sports Partnership (SSP), which means it coordinates school sport in line with Government guidelines.

Paul Tebay, the school's director of sport, said it had written to all schools in west Norfolk offering them the chance of the swimming tuition but some had opted out because of problems of transporting pupils to and from the schools, particularly difficult in rural areas.

Buses were being used to bring pupils in just before the end of term, when normal timetables tended to be suspended anyway, he said.

"Schools have had to make a judgment whether it is valuable or not," he said. The pupils' progress would be monitored and there was a possibility for more tuition next school year if they still had not learned to swim in the allotted two weeks.

Currently, children receive swimming tuition as part of the National Curriculum from around the age of seven or eight and are required to be able to swim 25 metres by the age of 11. After that age, swimming is not a compulsory part of education.

David Bishop, director of sport at Thorpe St Andrew High School, Norwich, which also has a sports college status, and boasts its own swimming pool, said he felt it was very important that children should be given extra tuition in swimming if they needed it.

David Cosford, assistant director of PE and sport at the UEA Sportspark in Norwich, which has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, also welcomed the Government scheme - but said that he thought it might be difficult for schools to implement.

"Schools are under pressure to provide the basic curriculum and sports, including swimming, isn't always given the highest priority," he said.

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