Es­sen­tial skill for kids to learn

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

MIL­LIONS of young chil­dren’s lives are be­ing put at risk be­cause schools are not teach­ing them how to swim, a hard-hit­ting re­port has warned.

Al­most a third of pupils are leav­ing pri­mary school with no wa­ter skills be­cause teach­ers fo­cus on sub­jects graded by in­spec­tors.

Many more have in­suf­fi­cient abil­ity to get them­selves out of trou­ble ac­cord­ing to par­ents of pupils in Year 6 (their last year at pri­mary school), twothirds of whom fear their chil­dren could not save them­selves with­out help.

One in 20 schools do not teach swim­ming, de­spite the sub­ject be­ing on the cur­ricu­lum for more than 20 years. For­mer Bri­tish Olympic swim­mer Steve Parry, the chair­per­son of the Swim Group’s Cur­ricu­lum Swim­ming and Wa­ter Safety Re­view Group, which re­leased the re­port, said: “We know that over 1 000 schools don’t teach swim­ming even though it is a statu­tory re­quire­ment.

“We’re fail­ing our chil­dren by not help­ing them learn an es­sen­tial skill. Wa­ter safety is the only part of the na­tional cur­ricu­lum that will save chil­dren’s lives. It can’t be treated as an op­tional ex­tra.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion called for mea­sures in­clud­ing bet­ter train­ing and re­sources for teach­ers to tackle the prob­lem.

Three-hun­dred peo­ple died in ac­ci­den­tal drown­ings in the UK last year, in­clud­ing 40 aged 19 or un­der. This was up a quar­ter on 2015.

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