Swimming lessons not at risk

Concerns that councils are watering down their commitment to primary school swimming have been dismissed following a General Teaching Council survey.

The GTC was told by Vic Bourne, depute registrar, that there is still "a serious commitment by authorities to make quality provision in swimming". Only two out of 29 councils surveyed did not teach pupils to swim and the vast majority had no intention of cutting the time allocation or changing the nature of staffing.

Most offered lessons in the upper primary in 10-week blocks at local secondaries, leisure centres and public pools. The location of the pool determined whether teachers or instructors taught the pupils. In four councils, qualified PE staff were used in non-school pools, alongside pool instructors.

The GTC found that the new unitary authorities had made few changes in policy since local government reorganisation last year. But it remains concerned that instructors may not be aware of the 5-14 guidelines on expressive arts and how swimming dovetails with the PE curriculum.

It emphasises that child protection issues are important and calls for adequate supervision in changing rooms as well as at the pool but says that it remains unclear whether instructors have to be vetted for criminal records.

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