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More support for swimmers

HAVING seen your coverage last week on school swimming, I felt it important to let your readers know what we are doing to address the issue.

I think it is also important to acknowledge that modest progress has been made since the Swimming Advisory Group was established - five in six pupils are now able to swim safely at least 25 metres by the age of 11, compared with four in five identified by the Office for Standards in Education in 2000.

It is extremely important that pupils learn to swim, which is why we are working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to provide the right support to enhance swimming teaching in our schools.

We are testing out how best to support children who are at risk of leaving their primary school without being able to swim 25m.

More than 1,000 pupils are benefiting from two pilot schemes. We have also created a new website for swimming teachers, providing practical support and advice on the best way to make sure more pupils learn how to swim.

In your coverage last week, you call for practical solutions to the problems schools face. We are doing exactly that by developing a Swimming Charter, which will set guidelines and share the best ways to encourage and teach youngsters how to swim. The Swimming Charter will be published before Christmas.

Stephen Twigg

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools

Department for Education and Skills

London SW1

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