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Ministers swim to the rescue

THE Scottish Executive has launched a review of school swimming after reports that it is no longer on the curriculum in 14 authorities. Children in the most disadvantaged communities are said to be losing out on a key skill that could save lives.

Nicol Stephen, Deputy Education Minister and a former Scottish schools swimming silver medallist, said last week during a parliamentary debate that an inquiry would begin before the end of June and involve every school and authority.

School inspections revealed patchy provision but there was as yet no centrally held information. "Swimming is so important that schools must have a role in ensuring that pupils learn to swim at a young age. Some pupils are receiving appropriate tition, but others are not. That is unacceptable and must be tackled," Mr Stephen said.

Ministers would study the evidence over the coming months before taking action. Schools had difficulties accessing pools and meeting the costs of pools, instructors and travel. Attention would also be given to water safety and the appointment of a national swimming officer.

The debate was initiated by the SNP's Kay Ullrich, a former swimming instructor in Ayrshire. She said a Scottish Swimming report showed no lessons in 14 councils while a survey in Aberdeen revealed that 25 per cent of P7 children in disadvantaged areas could not swim more than eight metres, compared with only 1 per cent in more prosperous communities.

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