The introduction of the national curriculum in 1998 and the need for schools to succeed in national tests for the league tables has inevitably led to cutbacks in other non-tested curriculum areas. There is no penalty for a school that neither teaches swimming nor whose pupils fail to achieve the statutory swimming requirements by the end of key stage 2.
During the 30-plus years I have been teaching in the primary sector, I have seen a general decline in the importance attached to swimming by schools, with fewer staff trained to teach it. Student teachers doing a postgraduate certificate in education, or a BEd primary course, have so many areas of the curriculum to learn in the available time that the teaching of swimming is often minimal.
Parents these days seem to have less time to teach their children to swim and only a few can afford extra-curricular classes at their local pool. The responsibility for schools to teach children this skill is therefore even more important.
Congratulations to the Meadows primary in Oswestry for being so responsible. Its pupils will have the advantage of a skill that they can continue to use for the rest of their lives and which will help them keep fit and active.
Perhaps if schools were given a bonus score by the Office for Standards in Education for the teaching of swimming and for pupils achieving the required key stage 2 level, we could begin to see more importance given to this vital area of the curriculum.
Colette Cotton Granville Road St Margaret's Bay Dover, Kent