THE Government is to set up a task force to examine the state of school swimming, education junior minister Jacqui Smith told the House of Commons.
The investigation follows a TESCentral Council for Physical Recreation survey in July which found that one in 20 primaries does not teach swimming. A survey by the Office for Standards in Education published last month revealed that half of schools have cut the time spent teaching swimming in the past three years.
Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show that the number of children under 15 who drowned increased by 50 per cent to 54 last year.
Speaking in a debate called by Valerie Davey MP, a Labour member of the education select committee, Mrs Smith said: "There are some very positive findings in the (OFTED) report, but we do have to address the small number of very serious concerns raised."
The taskforce will include OFSTED, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and swimming association representatives.
Ms Davey had earlier called for increased investment in school swimming, new pools to be built and for all pupils to be taught swimming for at least two terms. "The CCPRTES report found that more than two in five schools ask for a parental contribution, which can be as much as pound;3.60 a week," she said.
"Within schools, funding has to be improved and ring-fenced so that a parental contribution is not necessary. Resources should be earmarked to provide lessons and more intensive courses for those children unable to swim to the required standard."