Press Release: Swim England and Aspire join forces

Primary Schools encouraged to navigate towards safer and more impactful swimming outcomes

In recent years, the concerning downturn in swimming proficiency among primary school children in England has sparked an urgent call for revitalised swimming and water safety education. The latest Active Lives Children and Young People report from Sport England highlights that 72% of Year 7 children can competently swim at least 25 meters, showcasing a 6.3% drop compared to pre-pandemic data. As facilities grapple with operational challenges amid rising energy costs, the rich tradition of swimming, a vital life skill, is facing an unprecedented crisis, with projections indicating that six in 10 children may not meet the National Curriculum's recommended swimming distance by 2025 without decisive intervention. This worrying trend disproportionately affects youngsters from ethnic minorities and socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

In response to this pressing issue, in collaboration with Swim England, Aspire Active Education Group takes an innovative step forward by launching the Primary School Swimming Review (PSSR) this week. Tailored for efficient evaluation of primary schools' swimming and water safety provisions, PSSR aims to guide schools in nurturing proficient swimmers with essential safety skills. The initiative resonates deeply with the commitments in the School Swimming and Water Safety Charter, encouraging schools to foster a culture of safety and enjoyment in and around water.

Within the primary education landscape, swimming and water safety are paramount. Yet, a series of disruptions, including facility closures and escalating energy costs, pose substantial barriers to maintaining high standards of swimming education. Against this backdrop, Aspire Active Education Group unveils the Primary School Swimming Review (PSSR). This transformative tool empowers schools to assess and enhance their swimming and water safety provisions.

The PSSR scorecard provides primary schools with a comprehensive overview of their swimming and water safety provision. By responding to a series of 29 straightforward yes-or-no questions, schools receive a bespoke report that scrutinises four critical domains.

The innovative tool aids in curriculum planning and preparation by encouraging schools to cultivate a comprehensive and tailored curriculum that meets the distinct needs of every child. It focuses on establishing clear learning objectives and creating well-defined progression pathways for all pupils. Furthermore, it advocates for efficient and safe swimming lesson delivery, creating a nurturing environment supporting children's developmental growth in water.

An essential component of the scorecard is its emphasis on tracking attainment. It promotes the importance of monitoring each child's progress to provide a detailed insight into their journey of mastering swimming and water safety skills. Lastly, the tool guides schools in reporting progress and achievements effectively. It not only assists in transparent communication with parents regarding their child's assessment outcomes but also aids schools in meeting the mandate to publish the Year 6 National Curriculum requirement data online, promoting transparency and adherence to educational standards.

Echoing the significance of this initiative, Lorna Goldie, the School Swimming and Water Safety Development Officer for Swim England, remarked,

"As an island nation with an extensive network of rivers, lakes, and canals, water is everywhere. Every child is bound to encounter water at some point in their life. Swim England acknowledges the pivotal role that school swimming and water safety lessons play in instilling a lifelong passion for swimming and aquatics whilst imparting essential swimming and water safety skills and knowledge – keeping them safe in, on and around water. The Primary School Swimming Review empowers schools to evaluate their current programme and harness data to make informed decisions relating to future planning and programme execution and support with transparent reporting."

Schools that have already engaged with the PSSR scorecard express high satisfaction levels, finding the tool indispensable in revisiting and refining their approach to swimming education.

Ian Griffiths, Deputy Head at Timberley Primary Academy in Birmingham, shared,

"The Primary School Swimming Review scorecard transformed our approach to swimming education, facilitating a quick yet deep reflection on our provisions. It guided us from a traditional programme to a convenient, on-site temporary pool, fostering unprecedented levels of water safety and confidence among our pupils. The scorecard has been our compass, directing us to make informed decisions that ensure our children receive the optimal opportunity to be confident, competent swimmers and safe in the water. I recommend that other schools take a few minutes to use it; the insights and guidance it provides are truly invaluable."

Andrew Stanton, Education Manager at Aspire, encapsulates the enthusiastic outlook of the team on this initiative,

"The work we have been doing with primary school swimming over the past 12 months highlighted the need for an intuitive tool that aids schools in benchmarking their current swimming and water safety provisions. We understand the hectic schedules that primary school teachers grapple with daily. Hence, we designed the PSSR to be succinct yet powerful, providing schools with rich insights in minutes. This tool aligns seamlessly with our enduring mission to combat physical inactivity and foster a future where every child can safely navigate water environments."

In the face of pressing challenges, the PSSR scorecard emerges as a beacon of hope, urging schools to take a proactive stance in reviewing and enhancing their swimming and water safety provisions. Schools are invited to leverage this tool and work toward a future where every child has the skills and confidence to navigate waters safely. 

Schools can complete the Primary School Swimming Review scorecard by visiting the website: https://scorecard.primaryschoolpescorecard.co.uk/swimming

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